UPDATED: While Seattle police continue to investigate a fatal shooting downtown early Sunday morning, and hunt for the killer, a story posted on the Seattle P-I.com about another shooting several days ago underscores why a current push for a new gun law misses the mark.
In Sunday’s homicide, a reader looking at the Seattle Times would see that the suspect is described as “a light-skinned black male with short hair who appeared to be in his early 20s…5-feet-11-inches to 6-feet tall, has a thin build and was wearing a red sweatshirt and jeans.” The Seattle Police Blotter noted that he had “a short curly afro.”
But read the Seattle P-I’s account and one sees the cops are looking for someone who “was last seen wearing a red sweatshirt and jeans.”
None of the stories has any information about the firearm used, but considering the circumstances, the possibility should not be discounted that the suspected killer does not have a license to carry, and quite possibly did not get his handgun through normal legitimate channels.
The Seattle P-I’s updated coverage of last month’s shootout in the University District reveals that the suspected gunman is “a Seattle felon” named Robert E. Montgomery. The story noted that he got out of jail about five months before the March shooting, after having been behind bars for more than eight years on various felony convictions including robbery and kidnapping.
It is a very safe bet that he didn’t get a gun through normal channels, either. Wherever that pistol came from, one can bet that nobody was going to bother with a background check. Police are still investigating and will eventually determine where that pistol, a 9mm Smith & Wesson, came from.
The P-I’s coverage says Montgomery claimed the actual gunman tossed the pistol to him. That much was borne out by the charging documents, in which the suspect told investigators that another man had handed or tossed the gun to Montgomery and his female companion after the shooting. She also has a criminal history that precludes her possession of a firearm. The handgun ended up in her purse. Montgomery was arrested on charges of illegal gun possession and assault, and there was also a warrant from the Department of Corrections.
These incidents, and others like them all over the country, bring focus on what could easily be called “the gun law loophole.” Individuals involved in the kinds of crimes that get their names in the paper rarely obtain firearms through legal channels. When they get guns, with cash or trade for drugs or other stolen property, or by theft, they don’t bother with background checks.
On the other hand, as this column noted, mass shooters involved in recent high-profile incidents all – with the exceptions of Sandy Hook and Clackamas mall – all passed background checks.
Law-abiding gun owners feel caught in the middle, penalized for crimes they did not commit nor would dream of committing. How do they get out of that? It certainly would not be by passing a tougher gun law.
Still, gun prohibitionists compulsively insist “somebody has got to do something,” even when there is ample evidence that their solution du jour is not going to solve the problem.