DC police doesn't track magazine capacity of seized guns

D.C. is in a murder crisis this year. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier have been saying that "high-capacity guns" are a major cause.

But police sources tell me that they don't track the capacity of seized guns, so they have no reason that is the cause for the spike in homicides.

"Guns continue to make their way into the hands of violent criminals," said Bowser. "Unfortunately some of those guns have high-capacity magazines that inflict maximum harm."

"Multiple of our cases have high-capacity magazines and multiple rounds fired making the shots more lethal," said Chief Lanier.

Last week, I asked the chief to back up her claim.

"In D.C., over ten rounds is high capacity, but your department doesn't trace what kind of magazine size guns have. I'm asking when you say high capacity, where are you getting that information?" I asked.

"From the guns that we've recovered," Lanier responded.

"So I'm talking about 100-round drum magazines -- that would be high capacity."

She also added, "High-capacity magazines are magazines that are designed to enhance the normal capacity of a firearm."

But a form police use when they get property in a crime has a section for firearms. It asks for a brand name -- a Glock would be an example for that column -- and then type -- such as a handgun or rifle.

Then there are other specifics. No. of shots is for how many rounds of ammunition is still in the gun when the police seize it.

But there is no section for ammunition capacity on the form, which means how many rounds the gun could hold. Sources in the police department said they just don't track it.

"Information is power, so if I don't have anything to compare it against, I have to accept what you tell me," said Sgt. Delroy Burton, chairman of the D.C. Police Union.

The police union said the lack of transparency is all about politics.

"I think it's incumbent upon the citizens of the District to put pressure on their elected officials and the mayor's office and force them to provide that information, provide a statistical breakdown," said Burton.

The rank and file say the real cause for the murder spike is that the department is understaffed and Chief Lanier disbanded the vice units in the community.

"When she eliminated the vice units, what you hear is it created this vacuum, and that void in enforcement is being filled by the criminals who now feel much more free to walk around with illegal guns, sell drugs, gamble in public places," Burton said.

With no tangible numbers, the question the public needs to know is why the mayor and police chief are now blaming guns with high-capacity magazines? We will continue to ask for the statistics on the murder crisis in D.C. and we will report what we find.

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Emily Miller is a proponent for Second Amendment rights. She is the author of "Emily Gets Her Gun," which is about national politics of gun control and why she decided to get a gun in Washington, D.C."