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“We have a gun violence problem” says acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee

April 6, 2021

Last night, WUSA reported that there have been 17 people shot  — 9 fatally — over the past 8 days in Washington, D.C. Gun violence has continued to surge in Washington, D.C. in the past year. This year, there have already been 51 homicides recorded in Washington, D.C. — which represents a 34 percent spike from the same period in 2020. Last year ended with the highest number of homicides in the past 16 years. 

Last week, acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee noted that “we have a gun violence problem in the community.” 

In December, the D.C. City Council passed the Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Act, which includes measures to prohibit the sale and possession of ghost guns and strengthen D.C.’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law. The city also created a new Director of Gun Violence Prevention position tasked with coordinating violence prevention efforts across the city. This session, lawmakers should continue to prioritize gun safety by allocating more funds to violence intervention programs in Washington, D.C. 

As the shootings in Washington, D.C. continue, local intervention programs have proven to be essential, and workers have adapted their strategies in recent times to continue helping their communities hit hardest by gun violence. It’s imperative these programs continue to receive support to prevent gun violence. 

What to know about violence intervention programs:

  • Every year, there are more than 14,000 gun homicides in the U.S. In 2015, half of the gun homicides in the U.S. took place in just 127 cities, which contain less than a quarter of the population. Research has shown that community-based gun violence prevention and intervention programs are effective at reducing gun deaths and injuries in communities that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence.
  • Many community-based prevention and intervention programs in the U.S. have now adapted their strategies to inform community members about the risks of COVID-19. 
  • There are ways for lawmakers to help continue to support these programs. Lawmakers should continue pushing for stronger gun laws that are proven to reduce violence, divert budget funding to local intervention efforts, and utilize federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds to support survivors. Mayors must work hand-in-hand with officials at all levels of government to secure funding for support services and local intervention groups in their cities.
  • The Washington, D.C. chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers have worked closely with several violence intervention groups in Washington, D.C. including the National Association for the Advancement of Returning CitizensAlliance of Concerned Men, and Training Ground.

What to know about gun violence in Washington, D.C.

  • In Washington D.C., on average, 119 people are shot and killed and 448 others are wounded by guns every year. Black people in Washington, D.C. are 22 times more likely than white people to die by guns.
  • An average of 109 people in Washington, D.C. die by gun homicide and 192 are wounded by gun assault every year.
  • Compared to all states, Washington, D.C. has the highest rate of gun homicides in the country, and the second-highest rate of gun assaults in the country.
  • The number of homicides in D.C. have broken records from previous years, the highest since 2004. The vast majority of homicides in the District involve a gun.
  • Shootings have risen over the past year, as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the root causes of gun violence and brought unprecedented challenges to the work of local gun violence intervention programs. 

More information on gun violence in Washington, D.C. is available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator – which shows how Washington, D.C. gun laws compare to those of other states – is available here

If you’re interested in learning more about gun violence in Washington, D.C., please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or to request an interview with a policy expert or a volunteer from Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action.

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]