Monday night Town Hall Seattle held a community meeting about the recent violence in Seattle. While much of the meeting focused on preventing violence by bringing communities back together, and to identify individuals that would commit violent crimes before they began taking lives. While the panel was fairly one sided, the question was asked about an invitation to the pro-gun side.
According to Town Hall Seattle Communications Director Anthony Detrano for, the Second Amendment Foundation was invited but declined to participate. Ray at the Second Amendment Foundation did confirm that an invitation was extended, but was unable to attend due to prior commitments out of the country. What is troubling about just inviting one organization is that we are in an area that has a number of knowledgeable organizations. The Washington Arms Collectors have a new president, John Rodabaugh who would have been a good addition to the panel, or even the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms might have been able to participate. And those are just the big names in second amendment rights. There are plenty of other local organizations as well as individuals that would have been good additions to the panel as well. But none of them were invited.
Seeing through all the feel good measures, there was still two individuals on the panel that were pushing for gun-control. Mayor Mike McGinn and Councilmen Bruce Harrell both spoke of removing preemption from Washington State law, and being able to make their own laws for Seattle. The other side of the anti-gun agenda was when Bruce Harrell said “that is what is known as a bad ruling, by the way,” when one panelist brought up the cases Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald v. City of Chicago. The tone of Councilman Harrell all night was that of taking guns away, leading some gun rights supports to cry foul at not being able to speak up for their rights.
Many frustrated gun rights advocates were very dismayed at the way that questions were handled during this event. Questions were to be written down, handed to an usher and then vetted though not only Anthony Detrano the Communication Director, but also though the host for the night, Program Director Bob Redmond. Many supports believe that the decision to have this in a private venue was not a coincidence. One gun rights supporter was even harassed by an usher for booing Councilman Harrell. “This was held at a private venue so they controlled the questions and they could tell you to leave if they didn’t like what you were doing,” he said. This column writer was even told by an usher that “first amendment rights don’t count here, this is private property,” When asked about why he was threatning to kick someone out of the venue. This led many to call this northing more than a dog and pony show and not a serious discussion of solving the violence problem.
Many people, from both sides of the argument, were frustrated by last night’s event because there were no answers. Even the director of Ceasefire Washington, Ralph Fascitelli told KOMO News “people are frustrated, they want answers and they are not getting it [sic].” While many from the pro-gun side are not fond of the tactics used by Ceasefire Washington, they felt they had to agree with his statement. Much of what was said last night was the same thing that was said that morning by the mayor, leaving no new ideas on the table and more rhetoric about guns to wade though. Even the police administration could not keep their stories straight. Yesterday KING5 ran a story that Seattle Police Deputy Chief Nick Metz said that 81 guns have been stolen in Seattle this year. Last night Chief Diaz said that “there have been 90 reported gun thefts so far this year.” So which is it? In a city the size of Seattle a disparity of 9 cases is pretty large. Lest we forget that in 2005 then Police Chief Gil Kerlikowski’s service weapon was stolen out of his parked car, so even Seattle Police is contributing to the gun violence. To date there has been nothing to suggest that the gun has ever been recovered.
Many people are now waiting, wondering what the next move will be in this way on violence. One question last night did stand out, and was a good example of the problem at hand.
“Why the emphasis on gun violence? [sic] Long before guns came into play, violence has already occurred. The basic problem is violence. Let us discuss the basis of that problem rather than distractedly focusing on the tools of violence. Don’t treat the symptom, why not treat the cause.”
The problem is violence, whether it is gun violence, knife violence or even sausage violence. The gun is only a tool, without someone to make the gun function it is simply an inanimate object that is incapable of committing crimes on its own. What we need to do is start to prosecute people for the crimes they commit and stop letting them plead out to lesser crimes.