UPDATED: Five people are dead in Seattle, in two separate shootings, and as this update is filed, police were reporting that the same gunman committed both murders, and had shot himself in the head on a sidewalk in West Seattle.
One of the shootings occurred in the University District and the other nearer to downtown, a few miles away.
It was in West Seattle where an abandoned vehicle with a semiautomatic handgun left on the driver’s seat became the center of the investigation at first involving just the downtown shooting. As the case unfolded late in the afternoon, it became evident to police that they were after one man who had left a trail of death in his wake. But community horror had a disgusting sidebar.
In the midst of this mayhem, Ralph Fascitelli, president of Washington Ceasefire, showed up at the University District crime scene to talk with KIRO reporter Deborah Horne during a live feed. He insisted that the solution to Seattle’s rash of homicides is to “close the gun show loophole.” He subsequently appeared on KING/Northwest Cable News to pander his gun control agenda, insisting that Washington state’s gun laws are simply too weak. In his discussion with KIRO, Fascitelli claimed that the Roosevelt area is his neighborhood.
Fascitelli also contended that Seattle should be able to set its own gun regulations, thus eroding state preemption, which was the subject of a lengthy court battle between gun rights organizations and the City of Seattle. As this column noted, Seattle lost that fight.
Last year in Seattle, there were 20 homicides. Wednesday’s carnage has brought this year’s count to 20, already, and it is a long time until Dec. 31.
Mayhem began shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday on Roosevelt Way north of the University of Washington when a man apparently walked into the Café Racer and opened fire, shooting five people. Two of them died at the scene, one more died at the hospital. All reportedly had been shot in the head.
About 30 minutes later, a woman was fatally shot in what was initially reported as a possible carjacking. However, as the story has developed, there was some conjecture that the shooting may have started with an argument between the gunman and the woman. The woman was shot in the head at what appears to have been point blank range. At the end of the day, though, police appeared to conclude that the woman was an innocent victim, in the wrong place at the wrong time; a convenient victim for a fatal carjacking as the gunman switched vehicles.
A Seattle Times editorial contended that “Tightening control over firearms may be part of a solution but our public safety leaders need to step up with a plan.”
In his afternoon press conference to discuss the shootings, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn contended that weak gun laws are part of the problem, and Councilman Bruce Harrell echoed that sentiment. Harrell also brought up the “gun show loophole” and contended that laws allowing young people to carry must be examined. This column noted earlier that the minimum age for legal concealed carry is 21. Their remarks seemed to echo the earlier Fascitelli remarks.
People are wondering what is happening in Seattle. Even KOMO’s Ken Schram stated on the air that this is not typical of the image people have of the city.
What is virtually guaranteed is that this string of killings will launch a new effort to attack gun shows and state gun laws, specifically preemption and perhaps Washington’s “shall issue” concealed carry law. The seeds are already being sewn, despite no evidence that gun shows or legal carry had anything to do with either fatal incident.
There will be much discussion over the next several days, and probably lots of private and public meetings, and possibly a “gun violence summit.” Does anyone think that leaders in the gun rights community will be invited to any of these gatherings?
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America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age
These Dogs Don’t Hunt: The Democrats’ War on Guns
Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns
Shooting Blanks: Facts Don’t Matter to the Gun Ban Crowd
Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities