Among the many “sensitive places” in Washington, D.C. where concealed carry is prohibited are all buses, trains, and public transportation facilities; “gun-free zones” that are currently the target of a lawsuit in federal court filed by several plaintiffs who argue that the ban on lawful gun possession is both unconstitutional and a public safety risk that prevents responsible gun owners from protecting themselves.
For now, however, the ban remains in effect, which means that when a man started shooting at Metro patrons on Wednesday morning, there was no one around to fire back. Instead, three people were wounded and 64-year-old Robert Cunningham, a Metro employee, was killed before the suspect was taken into custody. Metropolitan Police executive assistant chief of police Ashan Benedict described to reporters how the shootings unfolded in a briefing to reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
Shortly after 9:00 AM, there was an altercation on a metro bus at 14th Potomac Avenue. There was an individual brandishing a weapon, engaging passengers on this bus. He followed one of the individuals off the bus. The intent of which he’s trying to do is not clear at this point. But he shot at this individual, striking him in the legs.
That individual ran off and is now since been interviewed and transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. We believe this to be a series of individual events, and I’m going to talk you through it. That’s the first event. Our shooter goes down the escalator to the metro platform.
At that point, he engages someone who’s attempting to buy a metro card. Again, another altercation occurs. He shoots this individual, also in the leg, brings him over the turnstile. Again, we’re not sure the intent of all of this going in. That individual breaks free and has now been transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Our shooter goes down the escalator further to the platform. He engages with another individual, a female, a woman at this point, and has a gun brandished to his side. Attempts to either rob her, confront her, get into some kind of altercation with her. There’s two Metro Transit employees that are watching what’s happening. One of them attempts to intervene to protect this young lady. By doing so, he’s immediately shot by our shooter. He remains on-scene and has been pronounced. His heroism has to be recognized here today.
A second WMATA employee engages the shooter and attempts to de-escalate this situation. And I believe he successfully does so because no one is shot after this individual was shot. Our shooter gets on the train, gets off the train. Again, it’s unclear what the motive of all this is. But our first district officer has got a call for service at about 09:20, that call comes in after our metro bus shooting.
The heroism of the unarmed Metro workers who engaged the shooter should be acknowledged and praised, but we should also recognize the fact that if it wasn’t a crime for concealed carry licensees to lawfully carry on buses, trains, and in public transportation facilities this guy might have encountered armed resistance long before police showed up, disarmed him, and took him into custody.
There’s no guarantee that an armed citizen would have been able to intervene, of course, but Metro’s designation as a “sensitive place” certainly didn’t stop the suspect from randomly shooting at strangers either. Instead, it prevented law-abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves and others with a firearm of their own. And as Fox 5 in D.C. reports, this is just the latest in a string of shootings on Metro property.
Wednesday’s shooting is the latest in a series of violent incidents that have plagued the transit system in recent months.
In December of last year, a woman and two teens were shot at the Benning Road Metro station after a juvenile gunman opened fire during a fight.
Just days into the New Year, a 17-year-old was killed and a 14-year-old was wounded during a shooting at a southeast D.C. Metro station.
Several weeks ago, two children and a man were shot after an altercation that started on a Metrobus in the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest D.C.
That’s a lot of shootings for places that are supposed to be gun-free, isn’t it?
I know Metro’s policy won’t be changing as a result of this latest act of random violence, but it should. The ban on concealed carry not only prevents responsible gun owners from protecting themselves while they’re on Metro property, but precludes them from lawfully carrying before and after they board a train or bus as well. Concealed carry holders who rely on public transportation to get around are being forced to give up their right to carry to satisfy the anti-gun impulses of D.C. politicians, and there are deadly consequences to this misguided and unconstitutional edict.