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Murray needs top cop like Detroit’s; Times poll on ‘UBC’

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Newly-sworn Seattle Mayor Ed Murray yesterday outlined his goals for his first 100 days in office, which include hiring a new police chief, and yesterday’s Detroit News revealed the perfect choice; Chief James Craig, who is an outspoken supporter of concealed carry by private citizens.

It is not likely that Murray would ever offer the job to Chief Craig.

He would likely please a majority of respondents to a current Seattle Times poll on the “dueling initiatives,” — I-591 and I-594 — who are now weighing in heavily in opposition to any background checks on firearms sales, while the split in support between the two measures is about even, and seems to bounce back and forth. By the numbers, though, I-594, the 17-page gun control measure touting "universal background checks," or "UBCs," is decidedly behind in popularity.

Chief Craig, who came from a California law enforcement career by way of Maine, indicated to the Detroit News how he had gone through something of an epiphany about armed citizens, was quoted by the newspaper observing, “When we look at the good community members who have concealed weapons permits, the likelihood they’ll shoot is based on a lack of confidence in this Police Department.”

The newspaper also said “Craig…started believing that legal gun owners can deter crime when he became police chief in Portland, Maine, in 2009.”

“Coming from California, where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs (carrying concealed weapon permits), and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation,” he told a press conference. “I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

This goes along with what former-cop Terry Nichols, an assistant director at Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center, told Yahoo News this week. He said that “citizens and bystanders have a very real and active role in stopping (mass shooting) events.”

“If we can properly prepare and educate civilians,” he said, “maybe we can get to where 90 percent are stopped by civilians long before the police arrive.”

Gun rights proponents have a big job ahead: Public education. They may get some unintentional help from King County Public Health.

While that agency misleadingly combines all firearms-related fatalities — creating the impression that they may have all been related to criminal violence; a tactic used by gun prohibitionists that was discussed by this column — elsewhere the notion is somewhat clarified.

After mixing all the firearms deaths, the agency declares, “Since 2007 in King County, the number of firearm deaths has surpassed the number of motor vehicle traffic deaths. In 2010, there were 123 firearm deaths and 102 traffic deaths.”

Elsewhere, the county acknowledges, “In King County, of all firearm deaths between 2006 and 2010, 29% were homicide and 68% were suicide. The remaining 3% were due to unintentional injuries, legal intervention, or death of undetermined intent.”

Times blogger Tranh Tan adds something else in discussing the competing initiatives with this passage, which gun rights activists might find disturbingly biased: “People are getting killed and maimed. It’s not clear where the guns used to shoot them are coming from. So what’s the harm in requiring universal checks?”

Some Times readers have already explained what they believe is the harm. If Murray pays attention, he might find a police chief like James Craig, or offer the job to the Detroit chief, personally.

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