Washington residents are up in arms, though not armed

City official insists residents shouldn’t defend themselves

By Emily Miller

The Washington Times

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Washington residents are up in arms, though not armed. With violent crime
up 40 percent in the first two months of the year – including double the
number of robberies at gunpoint – residents are looking for ways to protect
themselves. Elected officials and police have no solution.

Take Benjamin Portman, who lives on Capitol Hill, part of the 1st
District, where violent crime has increased the most. A total of 110 incidents have
been reported in 2012, a 69 percent jump, according to statistics obtained
by The Washington Times. Two weeks ago, Mr. Portman’s male roommate and his
girlfriend were robbed by three armed men in ski masks as they walked home
on a well-lit street.

That spurred Mr. Portman to attend a community meeting on the increased
violence, which was held last week by D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3
Democrat. Mr. Portman asked officials why the city makes it so difficult
for law-abiding residents to register guns and refuses to allow them to
carry weapons outside of the home.

As you can see in the video below, Paul Quander, the District’s deputy
mayor for public safety and justice, responded that crime victims should give
the criminals what they want. Mr. Portman protested, saying, “But how do you
know you’re going live and survive? You’re completely at their mercy.”

Mr. Quander thinks victimhood is preferable to self-defense. “The problem
is, if you are armed, it escalates the situation,” Mr. Quander told
residents. “It is much better, in my opinion, to be scared, to be frightened, and
even if you have to be, to be injured, but to walk away and survive. You’ll
heal, and you can replace whatever was taken away.”

Kristopher Baumann, head of the D.C. police union, also was at Ms. Cheh’s
meeting. “Having the deputy mayor for public safety publicly announce that
being victimized is something we, as residents of the District, must accept
is disgraceful,” he told The Washington Times. “At the same time, Mr.
Quander failed to offer a single short- or long-term solution to fighting crime
in this city.”

The police officer added that, “This is a mayor who, as chair of the
Council, cut 400 police positions and failed to enact tougher laws for repeat
offenders. Now we know why. His crime fighting strategy apparently involves
giving up and just living with being scared. Accepting violent crime and
victimization is not an acceptable trade-off for living in the District.”

The Washington Times caught up with Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier on
Wednesday and asked for her reaction to Mr. Quander’s comments. The police chief
did not remember exactly what was said, but she said she thought Mr. Quander
was referring only to victims of theft, not physical assault. “We always
say, if you are a victim of a robbery, your best thing to do is comply and
try to be safe,” the chief said.

Mr. Portman said Chief Lanier approached him after the meeting, but he
left unsatisfied. “I think if the chief realized that the police cannot protect
us all the time, everywhere, she might come to the conclusion that it’s
the right thing for her to recommend relaxing the gun-control laws in the
city,” he said in an interview. “I have the right to protect myself if the
police can’t.”

While the council is working to ease some registration requirements,
that’s not enough. The city needs to recognize that the Second Amendment
guarantees not just the right to keep arms at home, but also to bear them. Doing
so would give criminals reason to think twice before assaulting residents.

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