The National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence both support a law-enforcement program in Richmond that targets gun crimes, says the Wall Street Journal. The Supreme Court’s decision that struck down Washington, D.C., restrictions on individual gun ownership caused city officials to worry about a possible increase in gun violence. It also renewed interest in Richmond’s efforts to combat it.
The city already reduced firearm-related violence dramatically. It has done so not by making gun purchases more difficult — Virginia is one of the easiest places to legally buy a handgun — but by severely punishing all gun crimes, including those as minor as illegal possession. The decade-old program is credited with reducing the number of guns on the streets by 31 percent in its first year, 1997. By 2007, the city registered 56 murders, down from 112 in 1996, the last full year before the program was implemented. Armed robberies dropped nearly a third. With concern over crime rising amid budget cuts to local law enforcement, a small but growing number of law-enforcement officials view Richmond’s Project Exile as a way to further accelerate the crime decline.