Thursday, July 17, 2003

Let them Die

Today's Washington Post provides a great example how short-sighted and self-serving the Republicans approach to D.C. is. On one hand you have Orrin Hatch proposing to repeal the law that prohibits hand guns in D.C., and on the other a report shows D.C. to have the highest rate of AIDS cases among U.S. cities. So you have a "problem" where the NRA and some D.C. residents want to be able to own handguns in D.C., and a major public health crisis which is killing hundreds of people.

You would almost think that they want more people to die in the District. First, providing easier access to guns is only go to make gun violence worse. If the goal is to reduce crime, than provide more police, give the Capitol Police more jurisdiction, and stop requiring D.C. police escort administration officials and diplomats around town. Second, Congress continues to prevent the city from spending its own money for the distribution of clean needles (the rider is in this again in year's budget bill). According to CDC "Intravenous drug use and sexual contact are the chief modes of HIV transmission ... and this ... is highly correlated with intravenous drug use."

Congress has exclusive legislative control over D.C., and if they are going to use it, than they must be held accountable for it. People are dying in D.C. from handguns and from the use of dirty needles. It seems clear to me that the approach the Republicans are taking on these issues only makes the problem worse. But they can raise money by taking these positions (from the NRA) and get support in their own districts (by declaring they are trying to stop illegal drug use), so they act in their own self interest, instead of the interest, safety and lives of D.C. residents. Repeal Of D.C. Gun Ban Urged Incidence Of AIDS In District Tops Study

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