Miyares suggested that the District is soft on crime, endangering Virginia residents who visit as well as neighboring jurisdictions like Arlington. The letter was sent as “a direct response to the tragic murder of Christy Bautista,” an Arlington woman stabbed to death in a D.C. hotel room, allegedly by a man with an extensive criminal history.
In reply, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb (D) penned a lengthy letter asking Miyares “for help to stop illegal gun trafficking into DC,” noting that “Virginia is the largest source of illegal firearms recovered here,” per a spokeswoman. Additionally, the letter points out that Virginia cities like Richmond have “experienced increased crime rates substantially higher than the national average.”
Schwalb goes on to highlight that serious crimes in the District are prosecuted in the federal court system. The D.C. court is overloaded and understaffed, resulting in delays and a “public safety crisis,” Mayor Muriel Bowser has previously asserted.
“I also invite you to join me and Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown in advocating for DC’s autonomy over our local criminal justice system,” Schwalb wrote. “As a fellow attorney and attorney general, I know you can understand how difficult it is for a community to improve public safety when it lacks meaningful control over its criminal justice system.”
update: FOUR PEOPLE SHOT OUTSIDE FUNERAL HOME — 4000 blk Benning Rd NE DC. Two men and two women were shot (one of the four is critical). Happened after a funeral. Another man with graze wounds at 4300 blk F St but he says he was shot there on F St. pic.twitter.com/3S2MeUzV1n
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) April 11, 2023
The full letter is below.
Attorney General Miyares:
As the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, I share the frustration and anger regarding senseless killings and violent crime expressed in your April 6 letter to local District leaders. No issue is more important to the more than 700,000 residents of the District than enhancing public safety and preventing violent crime. Just like people in Richmond, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Newport News — each of which has experienced increased crime rates substantially higher than the national average over the past several years — residents of and visitors to Washington, D.C. deserve to feel safe and be safe.
Promoting public safety should be a bipartisan endeavor, not fodder for divisive political grandstanding. Developing and implementing practical solutions that will make our communities safer, now and in the long run, requires thoughtful, data-driven analysis and comprehensive, collaborative strategies. While there are several unsupported assertions and conclusions in your April 6 letter with which I disagree, I do agree with your observation that the proximity of our respective jurisdictions means that enhancing public safety is a regional issue which we must address cooperatively. To that end, I hope you will support efforts to improve public safety in the DMV region.
Improving public safety begins with curbing gun violence. As a necessary first step, we need to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who intend to cause harm. In communities around our country—urban, suburban, and rural—the presence of illegal guns is far too pervasive. Gun trafficking patterns remain remarkably consistent year to year from state to state, and most firearms recovered in the District originate in Virginia. According to the two most recent trace data reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Virginia is, by far, the source state for the most illegal firearms recovered in DC. Virginia is the source for nearly four times the number of illegal firearms recovered in the District than the next leading source state, Maryland, which has stricter gun laws. In 2020, of the 1,580 illegal firearms recovered in the District, 667 originated in Virginia. In 2021, Virginia was the source state for 619 of the 1,574 illegal firearms recovered in the District. By contrast, the District was the source for only 58 and 67 of the illegal firearms recovered in 2020 and 2021.
Trafficking of illegal guns does not respect state lines, and due to porous borders, we cannot halt the influx of illegal guns entering the District from Northern Virginia on our own. We need your help. One way we can work together to make our communities safer is to advocate for common sense gun control laws in Virginia. Currently, Virginia law does not: (i) prohibit or even regulate the sale of ghost guns or high-capacity magazines; (ii) block gun sales to those who pose a danger or who have been convicted of a violent crime; (iii) require all gun dealers (including those selling guns at gun shows and/or online) to be licensed; (iv) require a waiting period before purchasing a gun; or (v) require handgun sales records to be sent to law enforcement. Adopting even one of these reasonable measures would immediately contribute to reducing the presence of illegal guns in the District of Columbia.
I also invite you to join me and Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown in advocating for DC’s autonomy over our local criminal justice system. As you may already know, under the Home Rule Act, the federal government — not locally elected District officials — controls how violent adult offenders in the District are charged, prosecuted, supervised, incarcerated, and released. The chief prosecutor for violent adult felonies committed in the District is the United States Attorney’s Office, and the cases it prosecutes are tried in courts that are controlled by the U.S. government — not by the District of Columbia. The federal government similarly controls the Pretrial Services Agency and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. And, when District residents are incarcerated, they are in the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons, frequently imprisoned hundreds if not thousands of miles away from the District. As a fellow attorney and attorney general, I know you can understand how difficult it is for a community to improve public safety when it lacks meaningful control over its criminal justice system. Given your view that DC’s criminal justice system is adversely impacting residents in Virginia, we are
hopeful that you will support efforts to expand home rule and autonomy for the District. Only then can locally elected leaders implement the comprehensive criminal justice measures required to enhance the safety of visitors and residents in our nation’s capital.
I and my office stand ready to work with you and your colleagues to tackle the most pressing problems that undermine public safety in our respective jurisdictions and in our region. Please let me know if you are willing to work together to make our communities and region safer, healthier, and stronger.
Brian L. Schwalb
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
There’s no official word on its website, but it looks like Bar Ivy in Clarendon may have closed permanently.
There’s persistence, and then there is Audrey Clement and her decade-plus effort to get elected to local office in Arlington. Clement talked with ARLnow editor Scott Brodbeck to talk about…
Makers Union, an upscale gastropub, is set to open its doors in Pentagon City next week, says Alex Brown, the restaurant’s director of operations. This opening marks the third Makers Union location in the D.C. Metropolitan area, following the debut of its Reston location three years ago and a recent opening at the Wharf in early October.
Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.