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When embattled city residents ask police officers what they can do to stop crime, they invariably receive a set of pat answers: Watch for suspicious activity; don’t leave valuables in your car. But this week, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Lt. Mike Goddard pressed Columbia Heights neighbors to take a more activist approach. “What would make my job easier is law-abiding citizens [being] able to defend themselves, rather then be at the mercy of criminals,” wrote Goddard on the neighborhood’s e-mail discussion group, advocating for looser gun-control laws. “As residents of the District of Columbia your right to self-defense has been restricted by your government.” (D.C. residents may not buy guns in the District.) MPD spokesperson Sgt. Joe Gentile wouldn’t say whether Goddard’s views reflected those of the department. “The police are required to enforce the laws passed by the people,” says Gentile, “and that’s what we do.” —Brian Montopoli