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Exploiting SPU tragedy draws criticism, presents problem

Seattle police secured the scene at Seattle Pacific University after Thursday's fatal shooting. Now anti-gunners, including Mayor Ed Murray, are exploiting the incident to push for more gun control.
Seattle police secured the scene at Seattle Pacific University after Thursday's fatal shooting. Now anti-gunners, including Mayor Ed Murray, are exploiting the incident to push for more gun control.
Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images

Anti-gun Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was clinging to his “epidemic of gun violence” narrative Friday afternoon about the same time that alleged Seattle Pacific University killer Aaron Ybarra was brought into King County Superior Court only to be ordered held without bail on investigation of murder and other charges.

Ybarra is reportedly on suicide watch at the King County Jail. He will likely be back in court next week as the prosecutor moves forward on criminal charges that will probably include first-degree murder.

The mayor’s press conference started as a tribute to the many heroes at SPU Thursday, but quickly shifted to a demand for more gun control cloaked in an appeal to “find a way to move forward.” Murray said he would call a special meeting of the Seattle City Council “to address in detail how we, as a city, can move forward on the issue of public safety and on the issue of gun violence.”

Murray, a staunch supporter of Initiative 594, the so-called “universal background check” measure, was joined by Council President Tim Burgess, who also complained that, “Gun violence is a senseless epidemic in our country.” I-594 is sponsored by the Seattle-based Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a group largely bankrolled by a relative handful of wealthy elitists.

But the Ybarra case may not provide them, or other backers of I-594, much traction. If there is an “epidemic” of violence, it involves more than guns, and they know it. According to Seattle police, quoted by the Everett Herald, Ybarra legally purchased the shotgun he allegedly used in the attack several years ago. This effectively negates any contention that a background check may have made a difference.

Like the spree killing two weeks ago in Santa Barbara, in which alleged killer Elliot Rodger used handguns he bought legally, the background check argument is moot. Rodger not only passed California’s “universal background check” requirement, he also enduring the state’s waiting period and one-gun-a-month restriction, all key tenets of the gun control agenda.

New details have also emerged about the SPU suspect that suggest he has a history of emotional and drinking problems. He also allegedly wanted to stage a mass shooting and go out in some sort of blaze of glory at the hands of police and was "fascinated" with mass shootings. Friends reportedly knew about his problems.

Ironically, he once reportedly worked at the Kenmore gun range, operating clay target traps for shotgun shooters. In that environment, he could not possibly have failed to learn from scores, if not hundreds of responsible firearms owners the right and wrong of gun ownership and use (i.e. recreational shooting, hunting and self-defense are good; murder, not so much).

KIRO radio’s afternoon host Dori Monson was critical of the “politicization” of the tragedy by Murray and others, on both sides of the gun debate. He called background checks “a phony issue” and argued that the attention should be on the teen killed in the attack, identified as 19-year-old Paul Lee, and for the hero who disarmed the shooter, Jon Meis.

Murray’s remarks Friday afternoon suggested he has already taken sides against the very people he wants to reach: gun owners. While urging people to “step back from the culture war and talk about gun responsibility,” he indicated that gun owners refuse to listen.

“We need to make people who want to own guns hear us,” Murray said. “We need to engage in a rational conversation about the number of guns out there in the wrong hands.”

The problem Murray faces is that gun owners have learned from experience that such “rational conversations” invariably seek surrender of more Second Amendment ground, and gaining nothing for it. An effort last year by Bellevue gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb to hammer out a background check agreement that would have abolished the state’s pistol registry went nowhere because gun control advocates refused to give up the registry.

That exercise proved it is not gun advocates who are unyielding, but gun prohibitionists who want something one day, and something more the day after in exchange for nothing. Murray didn’t help at all by insisting in one breath that, ”We don’t want to take guns away from people,” and in the next breath saying that the nation’s gun laws must be changed “about who owns guns and how many guns are out there…”

To the firearms community, such rhetoric signals registration and restriction; essentially treating their civil right as a heavily regulated government privilege. Murray, one might argue, is so enmeshed in his own Utopian vision that he cannot grasp that others do not share it, especially when it comes to losing their rights.

Something else Monson said Friday resonates with gun owners who are fed up with Murray and other Seattle-centric elitists now pushing their 18-page gun control measure and complaining about violence in the city. It could apply equally to other large cities with crime and violence problems, including Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C.

“This is a one party city,” Monson observed. “Your party, Ed Murray, created what our city is; created the culture you are now railing against. It’s incredible to listen to this nonsense.”