You're Nicole Westbrook walking downtown. You're Justin Ferrari driving down a street. You're Joe Albanese or Drew Keriakedes sitting in a cafe. You're Gloria Leonidas in a parking lot. You're living, then suddenly dead. The question had been what is the cause of random violence, guns or gangs? Yesterday the answer became Ian L. Stawicki.
It was a day of mass murder followed by the mayor's call to pass more laws to control guns. Yet he and the police chief had already announced a crackdown on weapons and this did nothing to stop loner Ian Stawicki, who left home yesterday with two guns and the rage to use them.
It's too easy to look at six homicides in one day, and 15 others since January, and say it's just guns and not their users. Stawicki was feared at the little cafe he filled with gunfire and family members say he was breaking down mentally. "We could see this coming," a brother told the Seattle Times. Maybe they should have said something.
People saw Kyle Huff coming, too. He stalked the teens who he felt shut him out of their circle. He armed himself and wrote a suicide note to his twin brother. Then he went to a party on Capitol Hill in 2006 and killed six teens and adults, wounding two others, before he shot himself when confronted by a cop.
A city follow-up report on the shootings revealed Huff thought he was "defending society from the promiscuous rave culture that he perceived as dangerous and evil," adding:
It is not unusual for a mass killer to focus his own disenchantment upon a group of people, and suggest that mass murder is the right thing, the noble thing, a duty to squash the enemy.
As thoughtful as that report was, it got lost in the clamor for more gun control, America's eternal argument over the need for more laws versus enforcing those we already have. Rarely does the debate come down to how, specifically, change will end eruptive violence such as yesterday's.
The practice in the wake of crime waves is to study statistics and narrow timelines to determine the cause. More murders this year than last year, more in a few days than in a few months. There you go. More people are dying because they're being shot more often.
The city gives in to a futile hysteria, some calling for an end to guns, others arming themselves, the rest threatening to move to the suburbs - as if they're safer. (See: Lakewood, WA.).
Public urgency seems to spike especially when the victims are white, as they were yesterday. Gang violence, when black, Asians and Latinos are shooting and being shot, is our Afghanistan.
The gun is the method. The cause is something more complex - families, relationships, mental health failures - nothing you can pass a law against.
For the record, there are more guns and more people in this city than in 1994. But that was a scary town then: 69 people were murdered that year.
Last year, in comparably-sized Baltimore, almost 200 were slain.
Asked at a press conference yesterday, "Mayor, what is going on?," Mike McGinn had no answer. Not even he seemed to realize he was still in charge of one of the safest big cities in America.
Also on Daily Weekly: Seattle's Shooting Spree: Will Department of Justice Accord Make it Stop?
Previously on Daily Weekly: UPDATE: Man Responsible for Cafe Racer and First Hill Shootings Reportedly Dead
Previously on Daily Weekly: Violence Continues: Yet Another Shooting Reported in Seattle, This One at 8th and Seneca
Previously on Daily Weekly: UPDATED: Gun Violence Once Again Rocks Seattle, This Time at Cafe Racer