UPDATED: Even before Seattle Police investigators have been able to determine a motive for Wednesday’s wild shooting spree in the Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood, a member of the Seattle City Council tweeted, “We must have stronger gun control laws,” as if one more law might have prevented the chaos.
The tweet came from Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda, who added in her message, “We must crack down on hate.” But was this a hate crime, or something else?
Mayor Jenny Durkan also made the almost obligatory call for an end to so-called “gun violence,” even though one of the two victims actually died in a car crash with the suspect, who was at the wheel of a car he took from a man he fatally shot in the face, according to the Associated Press and Seattle P-I.com.
Terrible news out of Lake City this evening. We must have stronger gun control laws. We must crack down on hate. Thank you to the first responders, health care providers, and to the @kcmetrobus @ATUComm bus driver and family. https://t.co/W38D0StVQ8
— Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (@CMTMosqueda) March 28, 2019
A bus driver wounded in the attack is being called a “hero” because he was able to turn his Metro bus around and get the passengers to safety despite his wounds. That driver was identified as Erik Stark.
Topping it off, the Seattle Times editorial page, while lauding Stark’s heroism, took the opportunity to complain about “inexcusably lax gun regulations and an absurd proliferation of firearms.”
But Washington State has adopted, via voter initiative, some of the most restrictive gun laws on the map, and the newspaper knows it because the same editorial page endorsed those measures.
Initiative 594, the so-called “universal background check” law didn’t prevent this incident, although it was sold as a prevention measure.
Initiative 1491, the Extreme Risk Protection Order measure, didn’t make any difference. It’s not known whether the suspect in this case might have been subject to any such order, of course.
Initiative 1639 would not have made a whit of difference, since the suspect is over age 21 and he apparently used a handgun. The suspect is identified as Tad Michael Norman, 33, who apparently lives in the neighborhood of the shooting.
Published reports say he apparently came out of his residence with a gun in hand and opened fire, and authorities called it a random attack.
According to KOMO, the suspect may have been intoxicated. More information is expected later Friday.
The Times editorial, citing a story originally published by the New York Times that discussed firearms deaths in 2017 based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, complained that, “The number of Americans killed by firearms reached a high in 2017, with 39,773 gun deaths, the highest level since the Centers for Disease Control’s electronic database started in 1968. Nearly two-thirds were suicides, though the country also saw an average of at least one mass shooting per month last year, which is defined by the FBI as an incident in which at least four people are shot by a gunman.”
According to the New York Times, about 60 percent of those firearms death were suicides, which translates to approximately 23,864 in all with the aid of a pocket calculator. About 37 percent—or approximately 14,716 people if the Times estimate, and the pocket calculator, are right—were murdered with firearms.
But look at the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2017, which says that in 2017, there were an estimated 15,129 homicides altogether. Of those, according to the FBI, 10,982 involved firearms with the following breakdown: 7,032 involved handguns, 403 involved rifles (of any kind), 264 were committed with shotguns and 3,283 of the cases did not identify the firearm type.
That is a lot of fatalities, but there is also a significant disparity between the CDC estimates and data from the FBI.
The New York Times article also said something else of significance: “Among other public health problems, drug overdose deaths have also been surging, a trend that continued in 2017. About 70,000 people died from drug overdoses last year — almost double the number that died from guns, the health statistics center reported.” Yet, Seattle has an exploding drug crisis and their answer is to try and set up a “safe injection site.” Needles can be found all over areas occupied by “homeless camps.” The drug problem is at epidemic proportions.
In Washington State, the firearms community—the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association—have championed a suicide prevention program with the Forefront group at the University of Washington.
The Lake City incident was not suicide, it was homicide. One man was fatally shot; another was killed in a collision with the suspect’s stolen car.
Much still remains to be sorted out about the Seattle rampage. Police still don’t have a motive, or at least haven’t reported one. In the final analysis, it could be argued that it happened not because of lax gun laws, but because the increasingly strict gun laws adopted in Washington over the past few years didn’t work.