Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham look at a display of seized guns. (Peter Hermann/TWP)
Opinion writer

"Gun Recovery Unit Arrests:

"(Washington, DC) — The Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Interdiction Unit and Gun Recovery Unit announced recent arrests that have been made in cases in the District of Columbia.

". . . On Saturday, September 30, 2017, members were patrolling in the area of 18th and Gales Street, Northeast. . . . The following person was arrested: 18-year-old Luvor Truesdale, of Southeast, DC, for Carrying a Pistol Without a License, Unregistered Firearm, and Unregistered Ammunition.

"On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, members responded to a call in the Unit block of H Street, Northwest. . . . The following people were arrested: 21-year-old Dequan Alston, of Southeast, DC, for Theft Two. 22-year-old Darren Johnson, of Upper Marlboro, MD, for Carrying a Pistol Without a License and Theft Two.

". . . On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, members assisted US Marshalls in the 100 block of Wayne Place, Southeast. . . . The following person was arrested: 65-year-old William Bailey, of Southeast, DC, for Unregistered Firearm and Unregistered Ammunition.

"On Thursday, September 28, 2017, members assisted with a search warrant in the 2500 block of Pomeroy Road, Southeast. . . . The following person was arrested: 17-year-old Juvenile Male, of Southeast, DC, for Unregistered Ammunition.

"On Thursday, September 28, 2017, members executed a search warrant in the Unit block of Nicholson Street, Northwest. . . . The following person was arrested: 47-year-old Michael Chambers, of Northwest, DC, for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm."

This is the reality of life on the streets in some parts of our nation's capital.

The above reports represent four days, but it's like this most every day. More than 1,800 guns were recovered by the police last year. The recoveries are ongoing. So, too, are the assaults with a deadly weapon and the robberies; there have been more than 3,000 of those so far this year, with three months to go. Guns are involved in many of those 3,000 offenses.

Point and pull the trigger of those 1,800 guns one time into a crowd, and you get a massacre. But, of course, our shootings don't happen that way. Our deaths, our woundings, come one or two at a time. This is nothing like Las Vegas. But the gunfire does happen, and it adds up: 87 homicides as of this week. We are only in early October. We've racked up more bodies than Stephen Paddock did with his arsenal at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino last Sunday night.

This in no way is intended to suggest an equivalency between the Nevada massacre and our city's gun violence. The lethality of both, however, cannot be denied.

Which has sparked a return to the national gun-control debate: Ban the "bump stocks" that enable the conversion of a semiautomatic into an automatic firearm. Close gun-show loopholes. Restrict purchases, etc.

Here in our nation's capital, the brouhaha over guns is enmeshed in the city's restriction on the carrying of concealed guns in public. Our public officials believe that people who want licenses to carry concealed weapons should have to demonstrate "good reason" for carrying a gun in public.

In July, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit felt otherwise and ruled the city's restrictions on concealed-carry permits unconstitutional. This week, the city threw in the towel and decided against appealing the circuit court's decision to the Supreme Court. The prospect of permit-seekers rushing to apply for authorization to carry concealed guns is upon us — something that may have little effect one way or the other on the gun-related homicides, assaults and robberies that occur day in and day out on our streets.

Concealed guns are already being carried in our city. They can be found in waistbands, pants pockets, underwear and socks. They are stashed behind trash cans and under porches, rocks and bedroom mattresses. Anywhere and everywhere. Most of those toting guns likely possess them illegally.

The gun-violence debate seems to hang on the presence and prevalence of lethal weapons: How do we restrict or reduce them? Make them more difficult to obtain, harder to use, less desirable to own?

Important issues, but there's no guarantee that answers can be found.

My question is even more basic and elusive: What makes someone pick up a gun, point it at another person and pull the trigger? Whether that someone is Stephen Paddock or a dude who wants your wallet.

There is this threat, the sober, gut-gripping reality: Walking among us are so many people with the willingness to kill.

Guns give them the capacity. But the desire, impulse and readiness to destroy another life? That question goes to culture, values and the attitudes we develop toward others.

How do we, as a society, begin to deal with that?

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