Reacting to Wednesday’s fatal school shooting at Freeman High School south of Spokane, Wash., the head of a Seattle-based gun control lobbying group sent an email blast declaring that, “It’s on all of us to redouble our efforts to ensure the safety of every student, teacher and loved one…”
But what does that mean and what might it entail?
According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, suspected shooter Caleb Sharpe had “figured out the combination to his father’s gun safe” from which he apparently took the semi-auto rifle and pistol that were used in the shooting. That might erase any argument anti-gunners would use to support so-called “safe storage” legislation.
In 2012, when Adam Lanza went on his rampage at Sandy Hook, he first murdered his mother and took guns out of a safe belonging to her.
This narrative also suggests the suspect took the guns without his parents’ knowledge. That could not possibly have involved a background check, and besides, he’s an immediate family member.
However, the Spokesman-Review and other news agencies have reported that Sharpe had been meeting with a school counselor, and that he had left suicide notes. As the newspaper put it:
“And a couple of weeks ago, around the time classes started at Freeman High School, the 15-year-old sophomore gave notes to several friends indicating plans to do “something stupid” that might leave him dead or in jail. One of those notes was reportedly passed on to a school counselor.
“Signs that Sharpe intended to hurt himself and others emerged months ago, if not earlier, several of his friends said in interviews.”
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, speaking at a press briefing Thursday, was blunt, and his remarks were reported by KXLY.
“This young gentleman got sucked into a counterculture of violence,” Knezovich said, “a culture that is enamored with school shooting. And, media, you are to blame for that. To those in the political world, knock it off. Enough.”
The suspect, who may be charged as an adult, had made at least one video depicting him with firearms, shooting at his enemies.
Translation: There were ample warning signs that the suspect might carry out his plans to do “something stupid,” as reported by the newspaper.
When warning signs are not reported, or ignored, and when an individual obtains guns from a gun safe, and appears to have decided a course of action, what legislative fix might someone suggest?
The gun prohibition lobby has argued for a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” which translates to a ban on AR15-type semi-automatic sport/utility rifles. But according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, rifles account for a fraction of homicides across the U.S. and particularly in Washington State. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, of the 209 Evergreen State slayings there were 141 involving firearms. Of those, three (3) were committed with rifles of any kind. The data doesn’t specify. All the rest of the tens of thousands of such firearms in the state, and the millions nationwide, aren’t used to harm anyone.
There are already laws against bringing guns into school zones, minors carrying handguns, assault and murder.