barbarahowardweb.gifIn June, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.’s 32-year-old gun ban, gun enthusiasts hailed the historic ruling as, “a great moment in American history” as Wayne La Pierre, vice president of the NRA, said.

At the same time, liberals like D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, lamented that the ruling would “lead to more handgun violence.”

While I sympathize with the D.C. mayor, I fail to see what impact the tough ban has had on gun violence.  In fact, statistics show that the only effect the ban had was that law-abiding citizens could not defend themselves in their own homes. 

The criminals all were able to get their guns the way they always get them: They stole them. They seldom buy guns legally, leaving their name, rank and serial number on applications so the law enforcement agencies can trace them.

So the gun ban did little to keep guns off the streets. Project Safe Neighborhood reports that more than 10,000 people are murdered with guns every year. 

In the 1990s, D.C. was known as the murder capital of the U.S., with the high rate of crime concentrated in the urban neighborhoods just like in almost every major city in this country.  

Any reduction is reported to be due, not to the strict gun ban, but more to gentrification.  Many of the areas formerly known for high crime have been revitalized with apartments, condos, and upscale restaurants, along with other attractions.

So the criminals are moved out to other areas, particularly when they live in low-income housing.

In Miami-Dade County, when the Scott-Carver projects were torn down in Liberty City, the occupants were moved to the northern end of the county, into places such as Miami Gardens, giving it the unenviable rank of seventh in the 2008 FBI list of most dangerous cities, after Flint, St. Louis, Detroit, Memphis, Orlando and Oakland.

The Supreme Court’s ruling giving law-abiding citizens “the right to keep and bear arms,” under the Second Amendment, did not open the door to a “return to the days of the Wild West” according to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. 

But according to the FBI, we’re already there.  

In fact, the FBI 2005 National Gang Threat Assessment Report shows that the proliferation of guns accompanies the proliferation of gangs.

“Violent street gangs now affect public safety, community image and quality of life in communities of all sizes in urban, suburban, and rural areas…causing heightened fears for safety, violence and economic costs…Gangs threaten our schools, our children, and our homes,” the report states. 

Gangs are reported as the primary distributors of drugs throughout the U.S., responsible for both low-level and organized criminal activities in schools, streets and prison, spreading crime and violence.

Unfortunately, many communities refuse to even acknowledge their gang problem, even though many citizens express fear of continual violence in their neighborhoods and fear for their children.

Funny, I can’t find one reference to people being afraid of the NRA or law-abiding citizens having guns.

But they are afraid of gangs and domestic terrorist groups which are responsible for the drugs and violence across the country.  Try names like the Crips, Bloods, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, Mexican Mafia, or the Aryan Resistance, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, Skinheads, etc.

The national organized crime entities are Mexican, Asian, Russian/Central/East European, Colombian, Dominican, Middle-Eastern, La Cosa Nostra, Italian, Nigerian, Albanian, Hispanic, Jamaican, and Haitian gangs or motorcycle gangs like the Hell’s Angels, Bandidos, Outlaws, Pagans, etc. 

All use illegal firearms in 85 to 95 percent of their crimes. 

The Southern District of Florida’s anti-gang strategy reports “the largest factor in the proliferation of gun violence…is street gangs and youth gangs in the street-level drug trade.”

In Miami-Dade County, there was a 400 percent increase in the use of assault weapons in 2006 from the previous year.  In Broward County, the group found over 230 gangs.  In Palm Beach County, there were over 175 gangs with over 7,000 members.  In Okeechobee County, there were over 142 known street gangs.

And that’s the way it is all over this country.  So, when you get all bent out of shape because the NRA promotes our right to bear arms, think about the criminals who have guns.

And pray you don’t come across them without yours.

Barbara Howard is president of Barbara Howard & Associates and the Florida state chair for C.O.R.E. (the Congress of Racial Equality).