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Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian M. Fenty speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Jan. 23. Fenty was taking part in a conference on crime and guns.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian M. Fenty speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Jan. 23. Fenty was taking part in a conference on crime and guns. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
A federal appeals court says Washington, D.C., can't keep people from having handguns in their homes. The case seems headed to the Supreme Court. Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty says the ban is one way to fight a disturbing murder rate.
After this ruling, you still can't walk around with a gun on Pennsylvania Ave. But you could keep one in your house. What's wrong with that?
The ruling is not in effect yet. It won't be in effect until our appeals process has run its course. And that should be [in] a year or two.
If we were unsuccessful, it would mean ... [you could] buy a gun and bring it into your home. But nowhere else would they be legal.
What's wrong with having a gun in the home?
Acts of violence lead to death when you have handguns around, legal or illegal.
How has it affected the nation's capital to have had this gun ban in effect since 1976, more than 30 years?
I think what you've seen [is that] we've had a lot of homicides in the District of Columbia. But they have, steadily, been going down. And one of the reasons people think that they've been going down is [that] the only way you can get a handgun in the District of Columbia is illegally.
And making it tougher on people to get a handgun makes it tougher for them to kill somebody. We are trying to make it as tough as possible for bad guys to get handguns.
You've had the ban for more than a generation and it still is one of the more dangerous cities in America.
I think that's akin to saying that you have stop signs, but people are still running them and getting into accidents. I think the point is that if you had less stop signs, then there'd be more accidents.
You don't stop regulating something just because you haven't completely eliminated the problem.
When you do consider the crime rate, can you blame the six District residents who sued?
I think that would be blaming people who are not part of the problem. I think that there are some people who, probably for legitimate reasons, want to have a handgun.
But I think what most District residents feel is that that is overwhelmed by the number of people who would probably end up with handguns and use them for the wrong reasons.
How common are handguns in the District of Columbia?
What we know is that more than 80 percent of the homicides in the District of Columbia are committed with the use of an illegal handgun. As opposed to about 20 percent ... that were, probably, originally legal.
So guns are still making their way into the District of Columbia. But you can see that most of them are illegal and are being sold on the black market.
Now there's a way to go after those handguns. We think that we need to do a better job closing down stores that are too easily selling illegal handguns to people.
But I think you can see from that statistic that that number of legal handguns that would probably be used for homicides would go up dramatically if there were more legal handguns around.
Have you ever owned a gun?
Have you ever thought it might be a good idea to own a gun?