A Guide to Massacre Prevention

What Can Be Done Right Now, Here in Washington State, to Prevent More Shootings Like the One in Newtown

A Guide to Massacre Prevention

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OBAMA “We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”

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A Timeline of Mass Shootings in the Last Year

Armed with two semiautomatic pistols and an AR-15 assault rifle, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his way into a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school on the morning of December 14, where he massacred 20 children and six adults before turning the gun on himself. All of the young victims were ages 6 or 7; some of their bodies were riddled with as many as 11 bullets.

It was a crime scene so horrific that it left a grizzled police veteran at a loss for words. "I'm not going to lie to you," Connecticut State Police lieutenant J. Paul Vance told a press conference three days later. The emerging details of the carnage, Vance said, are still "too difficult to discuss."

But there is a discussion that can't be avoided and that must not be delayed.

The Newtown massacre is only the latest in a string of mass shootings that highlights the tragic nexus between America's gun culture and our woeful lack of services for the mentally ill. And while gun-rights advocates express outrage at the hint of politicizing such tragedies, our continued failure to do so is proving ever more deadly.

Crazy plus guns equals death. The equation is obvious. And so are some of the solutions: tougher gun laws, better mental health services, and a decades-long public education campaign that should aim at changing Americans' attitudes toward guns.

Now is the time to force the issue. Now is the time to call your state legislators and tell them to force the issue by voting for gun control in the session that starts in January. (Find your legislators at Now is the time to get involved with Washington CeaseFire ( Now is the time to talk to your neighbors and friends about doing something to change a culture that likes to wring its hands but do little else about tragedies like this.

It won't be easy. Fierce opposition from the powerful gun lobby has bullied political opponents into silence. Here in Washington State, with some of the weakest gun laws in the nation, we can't even bring ourselves to close the infamous "gun show loophole," an absurd exemption through which guns may be purchased from private individuals without a background check or waiting period. This was the same loophole that Radcliffe Haughton exploited in October when he violated a court order by purchasing a handgun the day before shooting seven women at a suburban Wisconsin day spa, killing three including his wife.

It could have happened here.

In fact, mass shootings have happened here, most recently the shooting at Cafe Racer in May that killed five and wounded one. They will continue to happen—here and elsewhere—unless we speak out and demand change from our elected officials and from ourselves, while at the same time standing up to the powerful opposition.

And it will happen—again, here and elsewhere—unless we speak out and demand change from our elected officials and from ourselves, while at the same time standing up to the powerful opposition.

The opposition is just plain crazy.

How crazy is the opposition?

Within hours of the December 14 shooting, conservative Christians like Mike Huckabee declared the tragedy a result of "systematically remov[ing] God from our schools."

Good lord.

Maybe the nice folks at the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association—the official state affiliate of the National Rifle Association—have more serious ideas for keeping our schoolchildren and public spaces safe?

Duane Hatch, the group's vice president, insisted that "there is no gun show loophole" in Washington State (wrong) and that it is "physically not possible" to prevent gunmen from walking into schools and shooting children (also wrong).

Meanwhile, the group's legislative chairman, Joe Waldron, had this to say:

"The bottom line is, in almost every instance when a mass shooting like this occurs, it occurs in an area where guns are prohibited. This creates an environment where people can't protect themselves. When you have a psychopath deciding that he wants to make some type of a statement, historically those are the places they choose—places where guns are prohibited."

Really, Mr. Waldron? So are you suggesting that the schoolteachers in Washington State should be armed to prevent a Newtown-style massacre from happening here?

"Not necessarily," he replied. "But current state laws prohibit them from being armed, and I'm questioning whether that's the best policy. If guns were as evil as people claim they are, you'd hear about mass shootings at gun shows. Never happens. Police stations. Again, never happens. These things only happen when these nutcases are able to go someplace knowing that they're perfectly safe to do what they want to do."

Um... How about this easy one, Mr. Waldron: Do you think some guns are more dangerous than others?


So how, exactly, Mr. Waldron, do we prevent more mass shootings from taking place?

"Part of the problem, I think, is that by the time a person reaches 18 in the US, he's seen one million people killed, usually unlawfully, on TV and in movies [and] video games... I think we're seeing the results of a failure to enact reasonable restrictions on them at age levels, at the very least."

So what's your solution?

"I'll say this: Given the 250 million guns in circulation in the US, it's amazing how infrequently this happens."

Mr. Waldron's brand of amazement—obviously—is not a solution.

The people who are making sense are powerless.

Unfortunately, the people willing to speak the truth on this issue don't have the power to fix it.

Seattle mayor Mike McGinn, for example, is telling the truth when he says the Washington State Legislature is putting our state's children at risk by refusing to pass meaningful gun control legislation.

But, as McGinn noted in a press conference at Seattle Police headquarters on December 14, he can't personally change the state's gun laws. The city's attempt to ban guns in parks was recently struck down by the state supreme court. He needs the legislature to act—needs it to close the gun show loophole, pass an assault weapons ban, and stop preempting cities like Seattle from banning guns in community centers and other public venues.

State senator (and mayoral candidate) Ed Murray, who agrees that "we need gun control," is also telling the truth when he says another part of the problem is that there's simply not enough support for gun control in Olympia. "We can't even find enough Democrats to support it," Murray says.

So McGinn can promise to keep the pressure on. And Seattle City Council member (and potential mayoral candidate) Bruce Harrell can promise to talk about all this in his public safety committee (which doesn't have any control over state gun laws). And Council Member (and declared mayoral candidate) Tim Burgess can introduce a council amendment about lobbying the legislature more forcefully on gun control. And Murray, who actually does have a vote in the legislature, can keep on saying, "We need gun control." But none of it matters because, as Washington CeaseFire director Beth Flynn points out, when it comes to gun control, in the overall picture in Olympia, "there's no support for it."

Her group has tried and failed to get the gun show loophole closed too many times already, Flynn says, and always finds itself "outgunned by the NRA—no pun intended."

So this year, her group is pushing for legislation that would simply increase the penalties for underage possession of a firearm. Right now in Washington State, according to Flynn, if someone under the age of 18 is found to be in possession of a firearm (which is illegal), that person essentially gets five chances—that is, four more times to be caught with a firearm—before the threat of time in juvenile detention comes into play.

With the support of King County prosecuting attorney Dan Satterberg, as well as support from state senator Adam Kline (D-37) and state representative Christopher Hurst (D-31), Flynn's group will be pushing in the legislative session that begins in January to change the law "from a slap on the wrist until you're caught for the fifth time to 15 weeks in juvenile detention for the second time you're caught."

"We're choosing to focus on that," Flynn says. Because, based on past experience, that's the only thing that seems maybe—maybe—politically possible.

Olympia is fucking gutless.

Thanks to senate majority leader Rodney Tom and his so-called "bipartisan" coalition coup, the senate Law and Justice Committee—the committee through which gun control legislation must pass—is now firmly in the National Rifle Association–endorsed hands of Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) and his "A+" NRA rating.

Which means any hope of getting gun control legislation through committee is now as dead as... well... you finish that bloody metaphor for yourself.

There's also the conventional wisdom that gun control is the electoral kiss of death with swing district voters. And since the Democratic leadership doesn't believe it can win a meaningful vote on gun control given this reality, they don't believe it's worth spending the political capital even trying.

Hence, apart from the shouts of a handful of liberal Dems in very safe districts, you aren't likely going to see any real Democratic leadership on this issue.

Judging by the initial reaction to the Newtown shootings, these epidemics are likely to remain untreated. "Today is not the day" to engage in a policy debate over gun control, White House press secretary Jay Carney cautioned in the immediate wake of the tragedy, a sentiment echoed a short time later by Governor-elect Jay Inslee, who timidly proclaimed that "today is a day for mourning."

Such silence may be smart politics if you're focused on winning the next election. But it's a silence that will fill our streets, homes, and schools with more and more guns.

So what should Olympia actually do?

State senator Adam Kline says that given the power of the NRA, and the lack of an equally strong gun-control organization on the other side, state legislators need the people behind them on this.

"There has to be the political cover of popular support for our side," Kline says.

Another force that could help: the state's prosecutors.

"They could stand up to the NRA," Kline says.

He'll be proposing a bill this year that would allow prosecutors to charge parents with "criminal negligence" if their guns get into their kids' hands and are used in a crime. Prosecutors actually support the idea, and because of that, Kline thinks it has a better-than-usual chance of passing.

"We may also take a good look at the assault weapons ban again," Kline says. "It's not gonna win. It possibly wouldn't even get out of the judiciary committee. But it has to be done."

Same with closing the gun show loophole.

Has enough changed since the shootings in Newtown for any of this to actually get through the legislature and onto the governor's desk?

"I don't know that," Kline says. "But how do you find that out unless you try?"

Good question.

And, like Kline says, the answer will be determined largely by how many people—average citizens, taking their responsibility as citizens seriously—show up in Olympia and defend legislators like Kline as they try to do something to keep the state's children safe, not just from guns, but also from the gun-crazed forces that make these weapons far too easy to get.

Additional reporting by Chelsea Kellogg.


Comments (48) RSS

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JF 1
I propose two ideas that trample individuals rights for the benefit of the group. 1) We outlaw/remove guns. 2) We bring back forced medication and institutionalization.

Anything short of that is a disgusting admittance that those people's rights are more important than the reduction of massacre risk. And if you really have trouble weighing those options, (the civil rights of the mentally ill/the constitutional rights of gun owners vs. 6 year old children being murdered) then we are way more fucked than I imagined.
Posted by JF on December 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM · Report this
Anthropomorhpise Me 2
Medication and guns seem to be the common denominator in this equation. Perhaps we should go after big-pharma too.
Posted by Anthropomorhpise Me on December 19, 2012 at 12:55 PM · Report this
Asylums?Preventing emotional illness?
Posted by 5th Columnist on December 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Mrs Jarvie 4
This could be the in-road for a new political party.
Posted by Mrs Jarvie on December 19, 2012 at 3:29 PM · Report this




Posted by CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON on December 19, 2012 at 4:29 PM · Report this



Posted by CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON on December 19, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Banning guns in public places is tantamount to the unilateral disarmament of the law abiding. Just plain dumb. Keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill is the key here. Canada, Israel, and Switzerland all have a large amount of firearms per capita. What's different? I would honestly like to know. This is an issue that needs to be studied. Sane regulations need to be put in place that don't demonize gun owners and hobbyists. I don't trust bleeding heart liberals to make smart decisions about gun rights because they are too ill informed and blinded by partisanship. Pro gun politicians need to step up and lead on this issue.
Posted by moshker on December 19, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
My plan for preventing massacres:
1) Allow no guns that can fire more than 10 bullets without being reloaded by hand.
2) Outlaw external magazines that can be quickly changed. Only permit magazines permanently fixed to the gun.
That way, a mass shooter would have to carry numerous guns (the guy in CT shot hundreds of rounds).
These are reasonable restrictions because there are 3 kinds of gun users:
* hunters
* self-defenders (yes, I know it's self-defeating)
* target shooters
None of these has any reason to need to shoot more than 10 times in succession. It's only the "tactical" wannabes who need that, and they can shove it. We need an NRA alternative organization that represents the above 3 categories and can speak for reasonable restrictions. Then it might happen.
Posted by billyk on December 19, 2012 at 5:20 PM · Report this
The sad truth is 1 the second amendment isn't going away. The more you regulate firearms the more you see innocent people being targeted with impunity. That is until the good guys with guns show up and the deranged person offs themselves.

Switzerland, Israel and Canada all regularly have armed responders on site. The perpetrators there that would try something like this know that they'll only get possibly one shot off so the delusion of grandeur doesn't have time to grow.

Fix our mental health system and we can see these incidents fading into history.
Posted by Frieswitdat on December 19, 2012 at 5:36 PM · Report this
Arrest kids the first time they are caught with an illegal gun - sounds great.

Arrest the parents if their kid gets their gun and hurts someone - I'm 100% on board with that one too.

Why? Because both of those measures seek to instill personal responsibility.

A gun ban or further restrictions on adult firearm owners is ridiculous. They don't work because criminals by definition do not follow the law.
Posted by David in Shoreline on December 19, 2012 at 7:38 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 11
fixing the mental health system will do nothing because the people most in need of treatment refuse to get it, and it is their right to refuse it. and it isn't going to stop until american civil liberties are severely curtailed. forced treatment or more massacres. pick ONE.
Posted by scary tyler moore on December 19, 2012 at 8:37 PM · Report this
Mental health needs to be addressed, full stop. I'm all for mandatory institutionalization for adults with difficult-to-treat mental illnesses, particularly if they are a danger to themselves or others. On the other hand, I am not sure how you would ensure that "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" abuses don't occur. These places would have to be strictly regulated and where's the money going to come from for that? Secondly, I agree that while you're never going to pry guns "out of [gunowners'] cold, dead hands" (thanks, Mr. Heston!), we can CERTAINLY close stupid loopholes, make national regulations on guns and we can DEFINITELY ban assault rifles. I'm also on board with making parents with guns responsible if their children use their guns to kill people. Mrs. Lanza apparently taught her son how to shoot guns even though she was also apparently afraid of him. Say what? I think there needs to be AT LEAST as much regulation on owning and possessing guns as there is on cars. Fun fact: Texas (where I reside) is 50th in mental health care AND we have a pervasive gun culture here. How we have not had a tragedy like this yet amazes me, but I'm sure my ultra-conservative friends and relatives will tell me it's because our citizenry is armed. Personally, I think we're a time-bomb waiting to happen. I can only pray it's not MY kids' school that gets shot up. For now, I weep every time I see the pictures of those beautiful babies who died. This whole situation makes my heart hurt. :(
Posted by evolve_or_die on December 20, 2012 at 6:15 AM · Report this
I was hopeful about this article when it mentioned early on “our woeful lack of services for the mentally ill” and “better mental health services.” But clearly, I was mistaken. When we are still referring to the mentally ill as “crazy,” as in “Crazy plus guns equals death,” we’ve identified a huge part of the problem right there.

Then the article goes on to bandy the word around by referring to those who oppose gun control as “crazy” in the line, “How crazy is the opposition?” Then, a quote from Joe Waldron of the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association in which he refers to the mentally ill as “nutcases.”

Guns are the least of our worries.

I’d highly recommend your staff read "Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America" by Robert Whitaker. Especially, when you start talking in the accompanying article about “commit[ing] the mentally ill to treatment involuntarily while preserving everyone's civil rights.”

And supporting NAMI is like putting a Band-Aid on a shotgun wound, so to speak, as they continue to feed the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.
Posted by SMAJ on December 20, 2012 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Could it be the media`s push for gangland culture, the disintegration of the family, the over-prescribed population of a million ailments, the continuous warfare of undeclared, secret, and proxy wars and the desensitize public, and the lowering of the quality and availabilty of education that causes violence.
Posted by liberty4all on December 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM · Report this
How about using some of that Homeland Security money that beefs up BFE, Idaho against terrorist attacks to provide a professional armed guard, IE: Law Enforcement (not armed educators!) at each school. They waste enough of our money giving away highway interceptor vehicles to college police departments (who aren't authorized to patrol the highway) when they ignore the common soft targets like grade schools. Look at history, schools have been a popular attack location for over a hundred years. Natives scalping white kids in the classrooms, maniacs attacking grade schools with flamethrowers in Germany, multiple school bombings in the past 150 years, Chechen rebels, Taliban attacks. School shootings have been happening since the 1800's, it's only now that we have instant and 24x7 news media via TV, internet, radio, etc that we hear the details of each one.

There's a reason no one wants to run with this political football. Remember 1994? You can watch all the recent political gains disappear into thin air just like back then. I'm a registered Democrat myself but I do not support any additional bans. The Second Amendment was given to us to protect against a tyrannical government. We are already outgunned on that front as it is.
Posted by wontbebudged on December 20, 2012 at 10:43 PM · Report this
Eugenics would not only have prevented these mass shootings, it would have spared us these fucking retards that wrote this piece of fine "journalism".
Posted by Stranger'sWorstNightmare on December 21, 2012 at 4:21 AM · Report this
17 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
If the courts were more willing to hold people for questions of mental illness; if people didn't have to fear the economic and social consequences of admitting mental illness; if parents and friends of the mentally ill knew that their concerns would be taken seriously and acted upon if those concerns were reported; if people understood warning signs and didn't confuse them with stereotypes of goth loner kids ... if wishes were horses, the streets would be filled with HORSE SHIT and my friend might not have murdered his acquantainces at Cafe Racer, a stranger for her car, and himself. Face it: planned gun attacks are nearly impossible to prevent. Terrorists all over the world prove that. Impulse attacks? Maybe somewhat preventable, but only at the expense of the Constitution! Start whittling away at liberty at your own peril.
Posted by aliceinseattle on December 21, 2012 at 6:08 AM · Report this
Well, that was a total waste of the time it took to read it.

"A Guide to Massacre Prevention"...couldn't you find an even more emotional title for an article that's filled with wishful thinking and lacks any factual basis?

Really? You really think that an assault weapon ban (if you knew anything about these weapons, you would know that ACTUAL assault weapons are already highly restricted), and closing the gun show "loophole" (which doesn't actually exist), are going to prevent massacres? Those steps, even if misguidedly taken, would not have stopped even this horrendous massacre, since he didn't use an actual assault weapon, and neither he (nor his mother) got the guns thru a gun show "loophole".

Obviously, your "solutions" come from an emotional place rather then a logical examination of facts.
Posted by factfinder on December 21, 2012 at 9:12 AM · Report this
sikandro 20
"A gun ban or further restrictions on adult firearm owners is ridiculous. They don't work because criminals by definition do not follow the law."

@10. Actually, there is precedent to think they do, for the most part. Japan has strict gun control and something like under 20 gun murders a year. Even organized crime there largely doesn't use guns. UK similarly doesn't have many gun murders, and most of their cops don't even carry guns. So in a tautological sense, you're right. In a real sense, you're wrong. Tighter gun control leads to fewer gun deaths.

Anyway, I'm not as worried about being shot by a "criminal" as I'm worried about being accidentally shot through the wall by some shmuck in my apartment building who thinks he needs to keep a gun to stay safe. This is on top of all the studies and statistics, some of which Goldy is fond of trotting out, that indicate carrying a gun makes you overall more likely to get shot.
Posted by sikandro on December 21, 2012 at 10:34 AM · Report this
Agree with 13
Disapointing article.
Posted by Emily Intense on December 21, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this
Look, most of the people who are going out now to buy their civilian 5.56 rifle or carbine are going to bring it home and make a place for it in their gun safe. On weekends, they’ll head to firing ranges, sight the weapons in, and have a blast. They will secure their weapons against theft (as Nancy Lanza did not) yet have them ready for defense of their home should anyone intrude.

In short, they will not be noticed, like the other million semiautomatic rifle owners in the USA.

It is simply impossible to ban certain weapons or magazines or ammunition in an attempt to keep the public safe, without infringing upon gun owners’ liberties. The VA tech shooter killed more people than the CT shooter, and all he was using were two pistols in .22 and 9mm calibers. No serious people are suggesting that we ban these individual defense weapons---- any legislative attempt to ban individual handgun ownership would cause gun owners to go into complete revolt.

I understand that a lot of people are having emotional reactions to 20 dead little children. It is a truly monstrous crime. But the killer stole the weapons from his mother who didn’t properly secure them. She paid with her life, and I don’t feel sorry for her in the least.

The people who are focused on the guns as the problem generally are ignorant of firearms, their relative capabilities, and the current legal environment. Fully automatic weapons and destructive devices are already prohibited from new manufacture, and the process of obtaining machine guns made before the 1986 cutoff is so arduous that not one of these weapons has been used in a crime in the last 25 years. I’d consider that a solid track record.

The focus SHOULD be on the news media turning a sad, cowardly murderer into Adolf Hitler with their coverage. Right now, the next killer is watching intently. He has no criminal record and no formal medical history of mental illness. He will slowly assemble his weapons before he massacres a daycare center, or sets fire to a school after barring the doors. We will shake our fists at him as he lies beyond our reach in death. And then the 24 hr coverage will spur the next killer, and then the next….a string of antiheroes to inspire our angriest, most impotent young men.
Posted by herrbrahms on December 21, 2012 at 6:46 PM · Report this
Honest question for the target shooters out there. Why not paintguns?

And a plea to the people of Australia and Scotland - how did you talk sense into your people, and can you come over here and do it? We need some help.
Posted by gnot on December 22, 2012 at 1:04 AM · Report this
Honest question for the target shooters out there. Why not paintball?

And a plea to the people of Australia and Scotland - how did you talk sense into your people, and can you come over here and do it? We need some help.
Posted by gnot on December 22, 2012 at 1:05 AM · Report this
@22 Handguns are great for concealed carry. Not sure what else they are for really, but for that they are really the only option. Do you think everyone out there who can currently carry a concealed weapon needs to do so, and if not, what rules would you propose to restrict it? That stuff makes me nervous, because those guns aren't secure, dismantled and separated from ammo in a safe at home.
Posted by gnot on December 22, 2012 at 1:09 AM · Report this
Also, does anyone know anything about how to boycott the NRA? I don't think all gun owners support their anti-gun-control policies, but end up funding them by buying guns and ammo, part of which money goes to the NRA. I bet people would try not to send money to them if they didn't agree with them, right? And the NRA might start caring about what gun owners actually want?
Posted by gnot on December 22, 2012 at 1:12 AM · Report this
Without a solution for the massive inequality in America, gun control and mental health care will fall far short of preventing future massacres. Americans must understand that guns are a nothing more than a metal binky for the politically and economically clueless, and a useful symbol for the 1%.

Mark Ames, author of the essential "Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond," comments on the latest outburst of madness:…
Posted by Che Guava on December 22, 2012 at 2:10 AM · Report this
@25-26 I have a Washington concealed pistol license, and I carry actively within the Puget Sound area.

In order to obtain my CPL, all that was required was a set of fingerprints, a clean criminal history, and about $50. One must apply in person at the police headquarters of the jurisdiction in which they live. Novices will walk into a police station for this purpose, but criminals will not.

I am troubled that no tests or qualifications are required to receive the license. I'm the sort of person who would figure out what the test covers, be sure I'm ready for it, and then swiftly pass. People who are not willing to make this commitment should not receive the license. However, such testing would come at a cost which would need to be incorporated into budgets or passed on to applicants. But be careful about trying to charge many hundreds for these five year licenses, because like pet licenses, people will simply fail to show up and pay.

I don't always have my pistol on me, but most of the time I do. I'm in line behind you at the grocery store, in the seat next to you in the movie theater, riding across the aisle on the bus... Yes, I have a perfectly legal weapon that could theoretically kill every person in a city bus within 90 seconds, allowing for a few magazine changes. While this makes me *dangerous,* it does not make me a *threat.* The 5-10 or more unseen guns that pass by you each week only threaten you if their operators are unhinged or untrained.

I am fully aware that any round discharged from my pistol is my responsibility; therefore I properly holster it and keep it secure. Every other year, you hear about a moron who shoots himself in the ass in a big box store. This often results from “Mexican carry,” i.e. placing an unholstered gun directly into the pants in the small of your back. When a licensed carrier does this, he gets a trip to the hospital and his license is revoked. If he isn’t licensed, he is brought up on charges as he should be.

As to your question, do I think everyone who carries concealed needs to? I think that’s the wrong question to ask. I am not in the business of determining whether someone else needs to carry, and you shouldn’t be either. My concerns are that the licensee 1) is not criminally ineligible 2) is appropriately trained with their weapon in order not to be a danger to others, and will not cause alarm in the community by letting the weapon be seen. “Printing” is when the outline of the weapon is visible in your clothing. “Flashing” is when you turn a certain way that the weapon is exposed to the sight of those around you. Avoid both at all costs.

Next, you are worried that licensees’ guns are not unloaded and cased. The thing about using a firearm in defense is that no attacker will listen to a time out while you go get a box of ammo, load a magazine with your thumb, pop it in, and rack a round. Defense weapons must be loaded. Loaded weapons are very dangerous in untrained hands or around children. What to do?

First, keep it out of sight. Expose the weapon only to extremely trusted persons. A gun is not an excuse to brag. It is a secret that you have to be prepared to keep from everyone.

Second, if children visit your house, your guns must be in a safe bolted to furniture or the house itself. No exceptions. The nightstand pistol must be in a lockbox that you can open with combination buttons. A trigger lock is useless as it still permits the gun to be stolen, and an unloaded gun can be loaded by children. Physical separation is mandatory.
I have zero tolerance for gun owners who allow children to gain access to their loaded weapons. Look at that Stanwood cop who tossed a goddamn revolver in a cup holder, then left the van with four children inside! I don’t care if that was the only firearm mistake he ever made. It was a travesty that he wasn’t convicted and sent to do some time for the reckless endangerment that destroyed lives.

Finally, you ask what can be done to defund the NRA. Like any other trade organization/lobbying group, most funding comes from companies in the industry. It is no more or less corrupt than any other trade group who wants to exercise political leverage. Personally, I think Wayne LaPierre is out to lunch (his ridiculous suggestion of armed police in every school confirms my thinking) and so I refuse to join the NRA.

However, every gun buyer indirectly supports the organization. But isn’t this the same as new car buyers being saddled with the cost of TV advertising, or Catholic hospital patients funding the Church’s wrongheaded attempts to limit condom use throughout the world? If you don’t want your dollars going somewhere, don’t buy the product. Find another source or buy it used.

Sorry about the dissertation. My arguments come well-reasoned and do not lend themselves to quick summary.
Posted by herrbrahms on December 22, 2012 at 4:04 AM · Report this
canada austraila england japan and about thirty other advanced nations have far safer pu blic places, lower rates of massacre and gun death, and they achive this mainly through gun controls, meaning, bans on assault weapons and highly limited ownership of other guns with far more restrictie licensing requirements than our system here which results in 280 million guns all over. so those nations often have millions of guns, so we're not saying you ban all guns, so @1 above is wrong, and these kinds of measures are perfectly constitutional here in the usa, too.

gun lovers can't seem to grasp the obvious point that if you have 280 million guns around, many of them bushmaster types capable of killing 20 kids in a few minutes -- before the armed guard could even get there -- you're going to have massacres, also, lots of gun deaths and lots of criminality. their minds seem incapable of thinking socially. they think "if I have a gun, I am protecting my home" then if you point out they likely will have their gun stolen or misused or their teenage kid will get the key to the gun safe and his creepy pal will steal the gun, um, they go " but that's AGAINST THE LAW" incapable of processing the point that yes, it is, but it will still happen, so it's the existence of guns all over that FEEDS and enables the availability of illegal guns. canada, finland, australia, switzerland, all those places with lots mor gun controls, but still millions of guns? they are quite different tthan us and don't seem to have the same levfel of problem. their gun owners seem far more responsible than ours. by ours I mean people like ms. lanza. seemingly oblivoius to the fact she housed an aresenal and her slightly disturbed kid might one day go south, might one day turn crazy, and take some guns. in finland I believe they have tons of hunting rifles, and not many bushmasters, and in any event you'd have national health care including more caring mental health treatment too. I am troubled that if gun owners can't grasp the connection between 280 million guns all over and our elevated rates of gun deaths, then as a group, they lack the mental skill required to manage, own, store, and responsibly ensure their guns are not taken, lost, misused; they seem incapable of even imagining it could happen to them. and even if the lanza kid had no signs of mental instability just some mere asperbergers, um, he has friends who come over and drink mom's liquor doesn't he? and they could get at her guns. the idea an average suburban home can safely and responsibly keep and store and lock up a bushmaster is just silly. someone has the key. someone can steal the key. likely, the parent will show the teenager kid where the key is at age 18 and at age 22 the kid might be hanging out with some ne'er do well who twists his arm, makes him get the key, then too bad, another "legal" gun is available for crime. Seriously if the nra is going to spout the ideas la pierre spouts we should report him for mental evaluation and take his guns away.
Posted by gunowners often too stupid on December 22, 2012 at 7:35 AM · Report this
30 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
This article is very confusing to me. First, the reporters claim that there is some relationship between mass killings and the state of mental health care in the US, but neither here nor in any other reporting that I have seen has anyone produced any evidence to support that claim. The fact is, not all mass killings are committed by people with mental health issues. They are, however, committed by people who feel socially alienated and political dogmatists. My point is that we should be wary of conflating mass killing with mental illness. Not all people with mental illnesses are violent and most mass killings are not committed by people with mental illnesses. Conflating the two only works to stigmatize those with mental illnesses. While I agree that mental health care is a serious issue in this country, I think there are better ways to approach this issue.

Second, the reporters move straight from mental health directly to gun control. While I think that gun control is a valid issue to discuss in light of recent mass shootings, it does not follow very clearly from the previous claim about mental health.

Third, how is this a "guide" at all? Guides usually have steps or flow charts, address possible misconceptions, and generally advise people. This is just an article about the politics of gun control in Washington.

Stranger, normally I love your reporting, but this is pretty bad.
Posted by clayleviathan on December 22, 2012 at 5:59 PM · Report this
Mass shootings occur in places where the rampage shooter believes the victims are defenseless.

The NRA has proposed an idea that will actually protect school children. Deal with it.

I think the NRA goes to far. We don't have firefighters standing by at schools, we have fire extinguishers and school staff qualified to use them.

Keep a firearm in the office so in the vanishingly rare chance that an attack on the school occurs the principal can have a fighting chance.
Posted by noaccount on December 22, 2012 at 10:57 PM · Report this
Here is one place every pro-gun argument goes, eventually, "You can't stop every crazy person from doing something crazy..." so don't put any more restrictions on guns, and you should probably just let all the sane people carry loaded deadly weapons... all the time, everywhere.

This "perfect is the enemy of good" argument has two basic flaws:

Guns aren't a deterrent for crazy violent people
Guns in sane people's hands have failed us, notably and catastrophically, at many times in the recent past.

Strange that you believe crazy violent people are crazy and you can't stop them, but you're SURE that these people will be rational enough to see armed guards or armed teachers as a deterrent. These people who ALWAYS SHOOT THEMSELVES at the end of their rampages. Do you imagine they're going to say to themselves, "whoa, I better not do this because someone might shoot me?" Does that seem at all consistent with the events and people we've seen perpetrate these crimes?

And for those using the Hollywood Action Movie logic that says some sane hero would shoot the insane person before they did something insane, I give you Columbine (where there was an armed guard), and the Lakewood shootings, where 4 ARMED AND TRAINED POLICE OFFICERS were gunned down by a crazy violent person WHO ESCAPED THE SCENE. These 2 notable failures of armed, sane people in the face of crazed, random violence are simply 2 of the most glaring examples among MANY.

I don't imagine I can fix this problem of crazy violent people doing crazy violent things once and for all. I DO imagine we can make them less likely, less frequent, and less deadly when they do happen. And there is simply NO RATIONAL argument that says restricting guns further will not help in achieving this.
Posted by nullbull on December 22, 2012 at 11:42 PM · Report this
Stop the craziness! I wanna get off!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on December 23, 2012 at 1:11 AM · Report this
Where is the sanity?
Posted by auntie grizelda on December 23, 2012 at 1:15 AM · Report this
The Zen Parrot 36
Please sign and share this petition to the Obama administration to designate the NRA a Domestic Terrorist organization. We need 150 signatures to get this petition to appear visible on the White House website and 25,000 signatures within a month to move this petition into consideration by the administration:…
Posted by The Zen Parrot on December 23, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
My last post in this shithole.

1. You have a physical form. You do not extend beyond your physical boundaries. Figure that the fuck out.

2. There are real world, applicable to your physical form, repercussions for your actions.

Posted by you_know_full_well on December 23, 2012 at 7:16 PM · Report this
@36 really? I mean they're idiots, no doubt, but don't we already take the terrorist branding a little too far in this country?
Posted by leviathan on December 24, 2012 at 12:48 PM · Report this
In WA I am 1000 times more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than by a crazy white person with a gun. Drunk driving is out national sport. Sorry 'bout that.

I am 100 times more likely to be accidently shot by a gang banger or someone in a "family" fight. I can minimize that by avoiding The Rainier Valley, Rat City, the CD . . . .

I am 100 times more likely to be killed in a stick-up or bar brawl. I can stay out of these places after dark and cut my chances in half.
Posted by billwald on December 24, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this
I don't get this article. This is one person's agenda masquerading as as "solution" to killing sprees. And yet the solutions offered - gun control and "better" mental health services (can you possibly get any more vague?) - would NOT have prevented the Newtown massacre. First, Connecticut already has tougher gun laws than Washington State and Adam Lanza received better mental health care than most families can afford to provide. Banning assault weapons is worth consideration - Hell I'll just say go ahead and do it - but it will not prevent a single killing spree. Not only is an assault weapons ban essentially about cosmetics as opposed to substance, but the number of assault weapons in circulation as is would make a such a ban symbolic at best. Other ideas like closing the gun show loophole have NOTHING whatsoever to do with the Newtown massacre or any recent killing spree. Finally, the idea of throwing all mentally ill people in institutions is a sign of the complete ignorance of anyone who supports such a move. Mental illness is a complex issue that needs careful consideration and a LOT of input from families of the ill. It doesn't need enraged leftists pounding the windows with their b.s. agenda. The idea of charging parents for the crimes their children commit is exactly the kind of short sighted idiocy that becomes law as a result of these tragedies. Of course prosecutors support it - they also supported 3 Strikes & You're Out AND the Drug War in its entirety. For a leftist dishrag like the Stranger to claim the support of prosecutors for a dumb law they want passed says a lot about how over the cliff this article is.
Posted by N11 on December 24, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
Too many guns are already in the hands of people who shouldn't even have illegal access to guns. The issue of mental illness has been shamefully neglected for too long, particularly among charter fool members of the NRA.

I can't believe the mass-genocidal Rethugs actually believe that
arming our teachers and hiring armed guards will keep our public schools safer!
Posted by auntie grizelda on December 25, 2012 at 1:56 AM · Report this
Texas10R 42
New Rules for 2013;

1) Writers must stop referring to any mass murders as a "shooting spree".
"Spree" sounds too much like a pleasurable summer afternoon, possibly involving shopping, lunch, cocktails, and sex. It demeans all, including the latter.

2) Writers must refrain from using the phrase "open fire" (and its variations) unless it was properly used as a verbal tactical command signal to communicate to all persons on the firing range or in the immediate tactical vicinity that the firing of weapons was indeed duly authorized.

3) Cops (and their spokesmodels) must use plain English when making statements to the public, i.e.:
"At approximately that point in time, the shooter opened fire on the apparent victims."
[should be]
"And then he/she/they shot him/her/them."
Posted by Texas10R on December 25, 2012 at 10:24 PM · Report this
Texas10R 43
It seems strange that all three of these nice people (Cienna Madrid, Eli Sanders, Goldy) collaborated on this call-to-no-arms essay, united in spirit and theme, ostensibly to influence the opinions of their readers; to motivate the readers to demand publicly-elected officials take decisive action by "voting for gun control" because "Crazy plus guns equals death."

The latter may be true in some circumstances but is unlikely to be solved by the former. The group-poop of their message, sadly, is not augmented by their joined voices. A compelling argument supported by objective, comparative facts would be far more refreshing and productive. The hysterical ideology and shrill tone of this trio rather remands me of the mercifully-shrinking homophobic "save-the -children" demograph now on the decline ––unless, of course, this new gun-hysteria "cause" galvanizes the incubating backlash to come, reversing the recent electoral fortunes of human rights; replacing state and national governments with zombie neo-cons. If centrist Democrats learned anything between the mid-90s to 2008, it was to stay the hell away from microphones when screaming "GUN LAWS!" If you must moralize at high amplitude, do so into your pillow, or on your keyboard, and then file it safely away. Until you're over your tantrums, many of us will keep our ear plugs handy.
Posted by Texas10R on December 27, 2012 at 10:46 AM · Report this
Texas10R 44
Much has been said, pro and con; in emotions of anger, sympathy, fear; and in varying degrees of knowledge and ignorance on both sides of the issue of whether more "gun control" laws might make people "safer" as a result.

Until and unless we collectively stop howling our respective points of view, and agree to assess our points of reference, we are unlikely to arrive at anything superior to a pissing match, which as we have seen thus far, does not lead us to anything resembling enlightenment or mutual enlightenment.

I ask these questions to both camps, pro and con, in hope of candid introspection rather than a reflexive response:

Would you feel "safer" if more people carried handguns:
1) if a fight broke out within 50 feet of you?
2) if a real killer started firing and OTHER armed people "reacted"?
a) in a stadium?
b) in a shopping area?
c) in a parking lot?
d) in a club?
e) on a bus?

Crossfire is already a big problem with trained shooters. What IF a mass murderer began shooting at a shopping center, and then five inadequately-trained civilians returned fire? What if one of the civilians inadvertently shot an innocent bystander? What if that injured innocent bystander misinterpreted that event as an act of overt aggression and returned fire? Any horrible event could be multiplied by "X" new shooters reacting in good faith or bad.

Sometimes, like other rights and responsibilities, there are those who prefer to maintain their own Constitutional rights while simultaneously restricting the rights of others. If this is true with guns, how many of those who would prefer to retain their rights to conceal-carry, would feel "safe" knowing that "X" number of strangers in their midst, perhaps of lesser rational judgement and training, had the same right?

If those "other" persons have lesser training, temperament, or "stability", and are equally and legally allowed to conceal-carry, are they actually a greater danger to the people around them, and thus a net public risk? But who is to be trusted to finally say? Government? Police? The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, depending on how it is interpreted, seems to constrain the government's unchecked rule over private firearm possession, but at what cost and paid by whom?
Posted by Texas10R on December 28, 2012 at 7:40 PM · Report this
El Matardillo 45
First thing's first: we have to clamp down on reporting and editorializing about incidents like this or our streets will never seem safe, leading to an ever-circling tornado of violence and yellow journalism.

Newspapers and websites like The Stranger need to be carefully monitored by a trained cadre of government minders, ever alert for trouble or incitement of the public to meaningless action.

Posted by El Matardillo on December 29, 2012 at 11:14 AM · Report this
"These things only happen when these nutcases are able to go someplace knowing that they're perfectly safe to do what they want to do."

This Joe Waldron guy is a real genius, isn't he? Does he bother to actually keep up with current events---and reality---or does he just rely on his seventies talking points and obtuse NRA cliches?

Maybe Joe Waldron can explain the mass shooting at Columbine High School when an Armed Guard was on duty, supposedly to "prevent" such a massacre?

Better yet, maybe Joe Waldron can tell us about the mass shooting, not too long ago, on a MILITARY BASE?!?!

Well, it is true that facts have an "anti-gun bias". Isn't that right, Joe Waldron?

Posted by Pissed in the 36th! on January 3, 2013 at 1:30 AM · Report this
I like the brainless people who agree with the author that control is the way to go. As if banning any magazine holding more than 10 bullets would improve "safety." Does this mean shooting 9 people is somehow ok? Or is the author so locked in her echo chamber that she thinks the shooter cannot reload? Let's go after the real problem: the breakdown of the family unit and over reliance on the government to solve problems.
Posted by AverageJoe99 on February 15, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
I agreed with the article’s central claim that Washington needs tougher gun laws and better mental health services to make an effort to prevent incidents like what happened in Connecticut from happening here. However, the article takes a very dogmatic approach to the subject of gun control and completely refutes the concept that the opposition could have any valid points worth considering. I would assert that instead of focusing only on the radically irrational voices of the opposition, we should consider their arguments that make logical sense and try to come up with rebuttals for them.

When confronting the opinions of the opposition, the article states in a subhead that “the opposition is just plain crazy.” This type of generalization about the opposition does not promote debate, but rather anger and frustration on both ends. I do not believe that there is enough data to make this generalization, because the section under this subhead presents only three voices from the opposition which had easily refutable points. Plus, it’s a bit unrealistic to call the entire opposition crazy. I found the first of the examples brought up in this section particularly problematic, because the way in which the article presents it attacks the character of Mike Huckabee rather than the problem in his reasoning. I agree that is it ridiculous to think that the shooting happened as a result of “systematically remov[ing] God from our schools,” but it would be more effective to attack the issues that his claim presents rather than attack his character by calling him crazy. Our goal should be not to ridicule the opposition, but to counteract their arguments. Instead of making generalizations about and attacking the character of people who are anti-gun control, I believe that we should address assertions that the opposition makes that are worth looking at and discussing. In looking at those assertions, we can focus on coming up with clear reasoning why we do not agree with the opposition by providing well thought out rebuttals to their claims, not simply criticizing them.

The first claim I’d like to address refers to the opposition’s opinion that semiautomatic assault rifles should not be banned, because although they have been used in several mass shootings recently, it is not the nature of the gun that is the problem. In The Washington Post, Courtland Milloy wrote an article entitled “On gun control: banning semiautomatics is not the answer.” The article brings up several good points in support of his title’s claim. He believes that we should turn away from blaming the gun, and turn to questions such as, “Who would use a weapon to kill and why? Those ought to be the most pressing questions in the gun debate, not which weapon they use.” He brings to light the idea that if we start banning certain guns because they seem more dangerous than others, it will be difficult to draw the line between guns that are so dangerous they ought to be banned and guns which are acceptable.

This is certainly a problem worth discussing. First of all, the semiautomatic assault rifle could be considered especially dangerous because its name illuminates its intent: to assault. The connotation of this word implies danger and lack of safety. Additionally, it is fashioned to resemble guns which are used in the military. In an article in the New York Times, Erica Goode explains that advocates for an assault weapon ban contend that, “such firearms were designed for the battlefield, where the goal is to rapidly kill as many enemy soldiers as possible, and they have no place in civilian life.” She continues to describe the weapons used in the Newton shootings as well as other recent shootings as “semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines and ‘military’ features like pistol grips, flash suppressors and collapsible or folding stocks.” Although they are not identical to the weapons used in the military, they share enough characteristics to make them dangerous and not appropriate for civilian possession. This form of discussion on the topic takes into account what the opposition has to say, and then produces a reasoning for why their logic is not sound, instead of making generalizations or personally attacking them.

Another assertion that the opposition commonly makes that I found worth discussing is that it is our constitutional right to bear arms. The Second Amendment of the Constitution states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. I think that we can all agree that our Constitutional rights should be held in high regard, so that is some common ground on which both parties can stand.
President Obama had an interesting insight which used the Bill of Rights to actually counter the typical stance that the opposition asserts. Scott Wilson relays this information in his article “Obama invokes Constitution in arguing for gun control.” He quotes Obama saying, “We have the right to worship freely and safely — that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The right to assemble peacefully — that right was denied shoppers in Clackamas, Oregon, and moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado.” Obama added that “that most fundamental set of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were “denied to college students at Virginia Tech and high school students at Columbine and elementary school students in Newtown”. This rebuttal to gun rights activists’ reliance on the Constitution points out that some people’s right to bear arms is infringing many others’ rights to additional rights listed in the Bill of Rights. This presents a new and interesting idea for discussion, and also does not critique the opposition for believing that they have the right to bear arms.

Another common assertion of the opposition is that the issue that we should be dealing with is mental health, rather than gun control. This brings up a valid point: mental health should definitely be taken into consideration when considering the issue. Sean Boswell of The Stanford Herald states, “it isn’t a gun law issue, but a mental health issue.” And it’s true; mental health does and should play a huge role in this debate. However, I would refute that it is the only variable that should be assessed.

In an article in The Huffington Post, Jeffrey Young states that experts have asserted that “focusing on mental illness is unlikely to achieve a significant reduction in gun violence, because the vast majority of shootings are the handiwork of people who do not fit the profile of those deemed dangerous”. This shows that someone being diagnosed as mentally ill does not cause them to be violent with guns, because not only should mentally ill people be assumed to be dangerous, but people who are deemed dangerous can slip through the cracks of the mental health system. He also brings up the problem that shifting the debate from gun control to mental health would risk perpetuating stigmas about mental health and discouraging people who confront it from seeking help. I would definitely agree that mental health should be a big focus in the topic of gun violence, but also believe that it is not the only huge issue at hand.

Overall, I agree with the points made in this article. I believe that we should advocate for stronger gun control in Washington. I believe that Olympia should be making powerful steps in this direction. However, I also believe that it is important to consider the opposition’s side of the story. If we disagree with people who are anti-gun control, we should look at their arguments and come up with solid refutations for them rather than making a generalization that they are crazy and attacking the people saying the ideas, not the ideas themselves.
Posted by weberc1 on March 19, 2013 at 12:30 AM · Report this

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