Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Gun violence, public safety, gun control
There is one easy answer
I was somewhat dismayed by Danny Westneat’s conclusion in his morning’s column that there are “no easy answers.” [“Questions, but no easy answers,” NWWednesday, June 6.]
Tightening gun-control laws is an easy answer. It is totally insane that we don’t have stricter background checks for people purchasing guns — or any background checks if they want to buy them at gun shows. How is it that teenage boys are running around our city with guns?
There are nations and cities where guns are much more controlled. And guess what? Angry, testosterone-fueled young men have to resort to fists, knives or, god forbid, words to resolve their conflicts. This may result in injuries, but rarely murder.
The Brady Campaign for gun control has much information on its. Gun control is not an impossible dream, but rather an essential step for a civilized society to take.
— Laurie Wick, Bellevue
Understanding mental illness
The verdict in the Ostling case against the Bainbridge Island Police Department misses the point of this tragedy. [“$1M verdict against Bainbridge police in shooting,” NWSaturday, June 2.] Awarding $1 million (from where?) to the family will not benefit anyone except the lawyers.
Increased mental-health training of public officers is a noble goal, but mandated lectures will not change the following:
— Schizophrenia is a tragic and poorly understood disease. The average life span of men with schizophrenia is 19 years less than that of the general population.
— Behavior in severe mental illness is unpredictable. A first time is a first time. Witness the recent tragedy at Cafe Racer. No amount of training will change this fact.
— Mental health is woefully underfunded and undertreated in the U.S.
— Americans need to come to terms with the consequences of their gun laws. In the United Kingdom, the vast majority of police do not carry firearms; had the Bainbridge police not carried guns, Douglas Ostling would be alive today.
Similarly, the recent Seattle murders would not have occurred.
We would be far better served spending money on gun control and understanding mental illness.
— Lynn Oliver, Bainbridge Island
Washington’s permissive gun laws
The mass killer who gunned down five people in Seattle last week was able to get his concealed-carry permit under the loose Washington state law that limits the authority of law enforcement to stop people with violent pasts and histories of serious mental illness from carrying in public.
Ian Stawicki is the latest poster child for the NRA’s dark, guns-everywhere vision for America. Stawicki was reportedly charged with assaulting his girlfriend and had a history of taking dangerous psychiatric drugs, but according to the NRA he was a “law-abiding citizen,” so Washington’s permissive gun laws forced police to allow him to carry a loaded, hidden handgun virtually anywhere.
In states such as California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland that give police greater power to deny concealed carry licenses, Stawicki almost certainly would have been denied a permit to carry.
Meanwhile, the NRA is now lobbying for federal legislation to override state laws and allow dangerous people like Stawicki to carry guns around the nation. The NRA and the politicians who do its bidding must bear responsibility for the consequences of their recklessly dangerous laws. Please reject the NRA’s deadly vision of an armed America!
— Curtis Taylor, Eugene, Ore.