The Seattle Times editorial board went after gun rights again Tuesday about the same time that a Seattle mayoral candidate learned the hard way that political correctness is standing in the way of something the firearms community has advocated for years: preventing mentally ill people from obtaining firearms.
It is indicative of a national dilemma for which the firearms community is consistently and unfairly criticized with the “Big Lie” that “the gun lobby wants to arm crazy people.”
Here’s what the Times recommended: “…the president can use executive orders to maximize access to criminal and mental-health information, and make it available to designated screeners.
“Tighten laws,” the editorial continues, “to ensure seized guns are not returned by law enforcement to those who should not have them. Share criminal and relevant mental-health information across jurisdictions.”
Gun prohibitionists have long contended that the nasty old gun lobby stands in the way of such measures, but Charlie Staadecker, who is running to replace Mike McGinn as Seattle’s mayor, might offer a different perspective. According to a Times blog, Staadecker pledged that “if elected Seattle mayor, he would ‘lead the charge’ to monitor the mentally ill to curb gun violence. But a few hours later, he backed off his own idea.”
Did Staadecker get an angry telephone call from the National Rifle Association? Did the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms rip him in a press release? No. According to the Times, “He was surprised to learn his idea offended an advocate for the mentally ill, Christine Lindquist, the executive director of the Seattle affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“She said people with mental illness aren’t any more dangerous than anyone else,” the Times reported. “A registry of sorts would just perpetuate stigmas.”
“It’s offensive that someone in Seattle would even suggest such a thing,” she reportedly stated.
One might suggest it is even more offensive for Lindquist to whine about being offended, and remind her about Daniel Culotti. He’s the guy who was fatally shot in self-defense by Kenneth Miller, a homeless African-American whom Culotti picked out of the crowd on a sunny October day in 2006 to beat and stomp nearly to death in the Westlake Plaza while scores of people looked on and did nothing beyond calling 9-1-1.
Culotti had been under the supervision of the Department of Corrections and Seattle Mental Health. The state allocated money for his therapy, medications and housing for a period of five years. He had done time for assaulting his mother and burning down her house. On the day he was killed, he reportedly confronted several people in the Westlake Plaza area, finally singling out Miller, whom he viciously attacked.
Let’s talk about Ian Stawicki, the guy responsible for the Café Racer mass shooting last summer; a guy with a history of mental problems, but he “fell through the cracks” because he was able to pass a background check. His father, Walt, even admitted to the Seattle Times that the family “knew he had issues.”
But instead of identifying such people and maybe getting them off the streets so they can’t harm anyone, we’re not supposed to stigmatize them. Rather, we should ban certain guns, make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for personal and family protection and treat gun owners as criminals.
How’s that for perpetuating stigmas, Ms. Lindquist?
Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess threw his weight behind a regressive proposal to roll back the state's preemption and “shall issue” laws for concealed pistol licenses. He believes local police should have the authority to deny someone a carry license based on…instinct perhaps? It’s not clear. The Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation sued the State of Maryland over that and won, with a federal judge ruling that, “A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”
Polls suggest that most people favor background checks, and the National Instant Check System has been supported by the firearms community since before its inception as a common sense alternative to waiting periods. A right delayed, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, is a right denied.
But for background checks to work as the Seattle Times editorial board envisions, with greater access to mental health records, the newspaper will have to confront the barrier of political correctness, not the so-called “gun lobby.”