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As congressional Democrats approached the 24-hour mark of a sit-on held to force the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass gun-control reforms, District leaders called on Congress to take action on precisely that issue.
Joined by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, Mayor Muriel Bowser said at MPD’s headquarters on Thursday morning that the national discussion around armed violence and several recent incidents in D.C. compelled her administration to publicly advocate for reform. She cited the mass shooting in Orlando, Republican congressmembers’ efforts to repeal the District’s “good reason” and gun-free zone restrictions, and assault-weapons recoveries by D.C. police as factors that brought the issue into “real, clear focus” for her. Bowsers’ remarks come in the context of a city homicide rate that’s roughly on pace with last year’s: More than 60 people have been killed.
“We know that these altercations that could be nonlethal are more likely to be lethal when there’s a gun involved, and especially when there’s a high-powered rifle involved,” Bowser said. She added that momentum for creating stricter gun regulations is picking up. “You can see the confluence of energy around good-meaning Americans—not just Democrats.”
Lanier explained that MPD’s Gun Recovery Unit has removed 3,000 firearms from the streets since 2007, when it was re-instituted. As she’s previously noted, the chief said the “vast majority” of the weapons D.C. police recover make their way into the city from neighboring states. Asked about gun reforms she supports, Lanier mentioned closing the loophole that makes it easier for people to purchase weapons at gun shows, plus background checks and mental-health screenings.
“The answer to gun violence is not arming everybody,” the chief said. “We’re asking for reasonableness” regarding laws.
Although anti-gun-law riders that would have diminished D.C.’s firearm regulations failed to advance to the House’s final vote on a federal appropriations bill (which the Democratic sit-in has delayed), Norton plugged for bipartisan, common-sense reforms. In a statement, she argued that congressional Republicans were “shamelessly tr[ying] to endanger our residents” and visitors. “[We] are sending an unmistakable message that this city is ready to fight back.”