D.C. Needs Statehood to Protect Residents from Gun Violence
51 for 51: “We could be making strides to save Black and Brown lives if D.C. was granted statehood and allowed full autonomy over local gun violence prevention measures.”
Washington, D.C. — Throughout this week, there have been several high-profile incidents of gun violence in the District. However, it is a devastating reality that due to generations of institutional racism, gun violence is a daily occurrence in the predominantly Black neighborhoods of D.C. Though news outlets often make the unfortunate choice to forgo reporting on gun violence in these neighborhoods, a recent Washington Post article revealed that just over 40 percent of gunfire in D.C. is concentrated in 151 blocks––only 2 percent of the city––located in the predominantly Black areas of Southeast D.C.
Stasha Rhodes, Campaign Manager of 51 for 51, issued the following statement:
“Our communities are in mourning. On Wednesday, two men were murdered in Southeast D.C., and last week, a six-year-old girl was shot and killed, while five adults––including her mother––were wounded. Unfortunately, these were not the only shootings to occur in our city. Last week, three people were injured in a shooting outside of Nationals Park, and last night, two people were shot near Logan Circle. These senseless acts of gun violence that most often impact Black residents hardly ever receive attention and are denied the action they deserve. This is the devastating human toll of disenfranchisement.
We could be making strides to save Black and Brown lives if D.C. was granted statehood and allowed full autonomy over local gun violence prevention measures. Congress continues to weaponize its authority over D.C.’s laws and budget to use our safety as a bargaining chip, and even as gun homicides rise in, D.C., Congress refuses to act. Gun violence is a D.C. statehood issue—we need the power to do everything we can to keep our residents safe, and that will only be possible when we’re given a vote in Congress.”
Congress has consistently abused its power of Congressional review to thwart D.C. gun laws. In the mid-1970s, the D.C. Council passed a handgun ban with overwhelming support. However, Congress moved to block that legislation, and has since made no fewer than five attempts over the past four decades to overturn gun laws in DC.
The last major attempt to give D.C. voting representation in 2009 was disrupted by a fight over D.C.’s right to protect its residents from gun violence. In order to sabotage the statehood effort’s growing momentum, the Republican-controlled Senate attached an amendment to the statehood bill that would have overturned D.C.’s recently tightened gun laws—an unacceptable provision that killed the bill and blocked D.C. from becoming a state.
51 for 51 is a coalition of D.C.-based and national groups committed to equal representation for the over 700,000 D.C. residents who remain locked out of our democracy. The coalition of 20 progressive groups elieve American citizens living in the District deserve a voice in Congress and control over their own local laws. Already, President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and Senators Warren, Markey, Gillibrand and Hickenlooper have endorsed 51 for 51’s proposed path to statehood.