Too often, we’re reminded we all live downstream from well-armed dysfunction. At least one criminal justice official is not willing to accept that fact as an everyday part of this American life.
Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge is going after Jamie Lee Chaffin and boyfriend Douglas L. Bauer with third-degree assault charges in the wake of a Feb. 22 Bremerton classroom shooting.
The litany of dysfunction leading up to the shooting — which includes drug convictions and a household littered with unsecured firearms — is depressingly familiar: During a visit to his mother’s home, which she shared with her boyfriend, the 9-year-old son allegedly purloined a handgun and stuck it in his backpack. He took the backpack to school where the gun accidentally discharged; 8-year-old Amina Kocer-Bowman paid the price. After multiple surgeries, she is expected to live
Two other, high-profile, accidental shootings in the Puget Sound area — tragedies involving unsecured pistols and the deaths of two children — have help spark the endless debate about our gun laws. A pair of Seattle’s Democratic state senators, Adam Kline and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, has introduced Senate Bill 6628, which would amend this state’s current reckless-endangerment statute so that an unsecured firearm accessible to children would constitute a specific crime.
The bill will go nowhere. But those who argue
“Guns don’t kill people; bad people do” miss the point. (Never mind that in the three cases above the guns were in the hands of children).
No enhanced gun law would have prevented the dismal Bremerton tragedy, no doubt, but it might have prevented the other two, if only from the extra awareness a highlighted law brings. Otherwise, why bother with increased penalties for those who kill while driving under the influence? The state Legislature will pass a tougher law on that front before this session is out.
But guns are sacred.
It is impossible in this state and in this country to have a rational dialogue on the subject. We boast the largest number of privately owned guns of any country in the world: One estimate figures up to 300 million guns in private hands nationwide, nearly enough for every man, woman and child.
During the week of President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, the sale of guns, including assault weapons, surged. Lately, gun sales are up again, as those sniffing the political winds fear Obama’s reelection.
This is hardly what the founding fathers meant by a “well-regulated militia.”
Senators Kline and Kohl-Welles, though they are right-minded, are tilting at windmills. Our eyes should be on Kitsap County Prosecutor Hauge: Good for him.