The Mayor and City Council of Washington, D.C. are in a heated dispute over how to address the city’s growing gun violence and crime. Recently, the D.C. Council voted to override Mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto on a criminal code rewrite, which she had opposed due to reducing maximum penalties for certain offenses and its planned expansion of jury trials.
“Anytime there’s a policy that reduces penalties, I think it sends the wrong message,” she reportedly said.
Mayor Bowser has accused the Council of not engaging her team fully in the multiyear process of rewriting the criminal code, which is set to take effect in October 2025, but must first pass a 60-day review period by the House of Representatives.
Homicides in D.C. have been rising for four years. Crime was a major issue in the mayoral election, which Bowser won. The criminal code rewrite is intended to help address the issue, but Bowser believes that the reductions in penalties and the expansion of jury trials are too extreme and could have an adverse effect on public safety.
The Mayor and City Council have yet to reach a compromise on the issue. Bowser has indicated that she will continue to work with the Council to find common ground, but that she will not back down from her stance of protecting public safety. The Council, for their part, has stated that they are open to further discussion, but that they are committed to passing the rewrite as is.
The disagreement between the Mayor and City Council has highlighted the complexities of addressing crime in the nation’s capital. With homicides continuing to rise and no clear resolution in sight, it remains to be seen how the city will move forward in its efforts to reduce gun violence and crime.