When Ian Stawicki opened fire in Café Racer in the Roosevelt neighborhood on May 30 he did so with a legally obtained gun, despite a history of mental illness. The five people he killed that day represent the reason previous Mayor Greg Nickels, Mayor Mike McGinn and other legislators want to implement certain gun bans and regulations.
Conversely, having a gun and permit to carry it could make the difference between surviving an assault or not. Dave Workman, an East King County resident, said when his mother-in-law called him for help with an intruder, the gun he brought to the scene helped him stop the man. He did not fire the weapon, but he was able to hold the intruder until the sheriff arrived.
“The guy would have gotten away, and since criminals don’t obey the laws, I could be dead,” Workman said. “The gun stopped a crime.”
As a proponent of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, Workman said sometimes it is the mere presence of the gun that is enough to stop someone. Incidents like the recent shootings in Seattle bring up new discussions about public safety, which is good if the discussion covers all sides of the issue, he said.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said more fights in the United States end in gun incidents than any other country in the world. The country is also rated No. 1 worldwide in the number of privately owned firearms.
A 2010 Brady Campaign study showed there were 39 gun-related deaths in the United Kingdom, 200 in Canada and 9,484 in the United States; the United States is the only country among the three that allows private ownership of a gun.
Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, a former attorney, said the first step to changing the gun violence in Seattle is acknowledgement that people today behave differently than in the past, and state and local laws should reflect those changes.
The proponents of the Second Amendment and those seeking new regulations need to find a middle ground, he said.
“We need to have more control on a local basis,” Harrell said. “We need new energy behind this.”
Currently, Washington state law does not allow cities to pass laws that are more restrictive than state laws. One of Harrell’s goals is to gain flexibility with this law so that cities like Seattle can impose more effective, local regulations, he said. For example, he would like to regulate permitted gun owners’ ability to carry their weapons in Seattle city parks, but he can’t because of state laws.
Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels tried to implement a ban on firearms in parks and recreational facilities in 2009, but the ban was deemed unlawful in court due to state laws. Current Mayor Mike McGinn has also tried to implement these bans in 2010.
“What the city can do is organize nonprofits who are interested in this area to bring awareness, which we have not done
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