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Is Seattle mayor mimicking Bloomy group’s exaggeration, misrepresentation?

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, shown here at a media event, is exaggerating Seattle's so-called "gun violence" problem, murder statistics suggest.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, shown here at a media event, is exaggerating Seattle's so-called "gun violence" problem, murder statistics suggest.
Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images

More than half of Seattle’s criminal homicides last year did not involve firearms, yet Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s focus, including his remarks last night to a community meeting in the South End, has been on gun control, and one wonders if he has taken a page from Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety” playbook to exaggerate the city’s violent crime problem by misleading his constituents and misrepresenting history.

To anyone familiar with crime in Seattle and other similar-sized cities, it might appear so. Yet statistics indicate that suggestions of Seattle being caught in an “epidemic of violence” as the mayor implied Wednesday, do not pass the smell test.

Homicide statistics for Seattle and comparably-sized cities clearly show otherwise. Last year, Seattle experienced 29 homicides, including six line-of-duty shootings by police officers, according to the Seattle Times. That is a remarkably low number of killings for a city of Seattle’s population, and fewer than half of those murders were committed with firearms. Two of those deaths were actually because of assaults that happened in 2012.

Eight of Seattle’s 2013 homicides were due to beatings and/or strangling, including the two from 2012. Four were stabbings, including the September slaying of Troy Wolff, chair of Shoreline Community College’s English department. That’s 12 of 23 non-police-involved homicides logged, yet Murray wants to focus on guns.

In Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, there were 103 homicides. That city not only has a metropolitan police department, but the FBI, U.S. Marshals and all kinds of other federal law enforcement, including the Secret Service. The city has incredibly strict gun laws, including a ban on concealed carry.

Milwaukee, Wis., which also has roughly the same population as Seattle, last year reported 106 homicides. And if you want a real example of “epidemic” violence, look at Baltimore, Md., which also is comparable to Seattle – not only in terms of population but political viewpoint – where last year saw 234 slayings. Baltimore is another city where the legal carry of concealed handguns is exceedingly rare.

This comes only days after CNN called Bloomberg’s “Everytown” on its allegation that there have been 74 school shootings since the December 2012 Sandy Hook attack. It is just one more example of a credibility problem that the gun prohibition lobby seems to be experiencing lately. Murray’s remarks about “epidemic” violence in Seattle are part of that narrative.

It also comes after gun control proponents have acknowledged that none of their proposals have prevented the kinds of crimes that they were originally adopted to address. This raises legitimate questions about whether gun prohibitionists are more interested in public disarmament than public safety.

At last night’s meeting, according to Joel Connelly’s report in today’s on-line Seattle P-I.com, the mayor agreed there is a problem with juveniles who are illegally carrying guns. “But,” Connelly wrote, “the problem will need to be fixed by state legislators fearful of the gun lobby.”

Apparently someone was on vacation to another planet when the CCRKBA not only endorsed a proposal by King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to crack down on armed juvenile thugs, but actually testified in Olympia when local gun control groups didn’t show. At the time, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb explained that the proposal would target the right people, and not affect law-abiding gun owners.

Murray also asserted to his audience that Washington state is “behind so many states in sensible gun control.” He encouraged people to pass Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure being pushed by the Seattle-based Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a group largely funded by a handful of wealthy Seattle elitists.

He wants to pass the initiative and “build on that,” according to Connelly’s report. This is where gun owners, including many in law enforcement, are raising red flags. The statement signals more gun restrictions will follow if this initiative passes. Long story short: Gun prohibitionists will never be satisfied.

Unlike the juvenile gun bill, I-594 zeroes in on law-abiding gun owners, including police officers who frequently swap or loan firearms to one another, according to critics. It criminalizes such harmless and traditional firearms transfers, say opponents, and would prevent people from loaning rifles or shotguns to friends and neighbors for weekend (or longer) hunting treks without the inconvenience and expense of a background check, or for use on duty.

Yesterday via e-mail, Bloomberg’s “Everytown” announced that it will hold a media photo-op next Tuesday, July 1, at the Seattle office of Sen. Maria Cantwell, to deliver postcards demanding more gun control action. That event begins at 11 a.m. and almost certainly will involve statements supporting I-594, and how Congress must “do something” about so-called “gun violence,” without defining what that is.

Perhaps someone in the press line will ask about Seattle’s low homicides compared to other cities, and about how fewer than half of those slayings involved a firearm. Maybe someone will ask about the bogus “74 school shootings” claim, and how I-594 or other gun control measures would have prevented the terrible crimes their proponents are exploiting. Those questions should be asked repeatedly.