Every few hours, in a routine that is sometimes grim but more often mundane, local police take a gun off the streets. Since 2000, nearly 50,000 guns have been recovered by authorities in the District and Prince George’s County. That is enough to arm every law enforcement officer in Maryland, the District and Virginia, with a couple of thousand guns to spare.
Police confiscate guns after drive-bys, drug raids and traffic stops. They find them tossed on roofs and thrown under cars. They take them from shooters, and they find them next to people who have been shot. Officers have culled most of these guns from an urban stretch covering the eastern half of the District and sections of Prince George’s inside the Beltway.
The number of guns seized annually by police in the two jurisdictions has fluctuated since 2000, rising 20 percent to peak at 4,200 in 2006 and then dipping back below 2000 levels in recent years as violent crime has receded. Homicides by gun in the city and the county are down by about 70 percent over the past six years.