Since 2000, nearly 50,000 guns have been recovered by authorities in Washington, D.C., and neighboring Prince Georges County, Md., reports the Washington Post. That is enough to arm every law enforcement officer in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, with a couple of thousand guns to spare. Police confiscate guns after drive-bys, drug raids and traffic stops. They find them tossed on roofs and thrown under cars. They take them from shooters, and they find them next to people who have been shot.
The guns keep rolling in. Washington, D.C., police recovered about 2,000 guns last year, and Prince George's collected about 1,200. The “drip, drip, drip of guns” is critical to consider in broader discussions about how to deter gun-related crime, said Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. The recoveries reflect a gun-saturated society in which an estimated 300 million firearms are in public hands, by far the world’s highest level of gun ownership. In the national gun-control debate, a salient fact often has been overlooked: Legislative efforts aimed at curtailing the availability of the most lethal weapons merely play at the margins of this huge gun population.