No Silver Bullet

No Silver Bullet

How do you solve a problem like gun violence?

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. What is the cause of random violence, guns or gangs? Last Wednesday, the answer became Ian L. Stawicki.

He shot six people he saw as his enemies, killing five, then got on his knees as police approached and, pulling the trigger one last time, surrendered himself to hell. 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, which did nothing to stop Stawicki, who left home last week with two guns and the rage to use them.

It’s too easy to look at six deaths in one day, and 15 others since January 1, and say it’s just guns and not their users. Stawicki was already feared at the little cafe he filled with gunfire, and family members say he was breaking down mentally. “We could see this coming,” his brother told The Seattle Times.

People saw Kyle Huff coming, too. He stalked the teens who he felt had 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 people and wounded two others before shooting himself when confronted by a cop. A city 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. 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 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, Wash., Nov. 29, 2009). Public urgency seems to spike especially when the victims are white. Gang violence—when blacks, 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 illness—nothing you can pass a law against. There are more guns and more people in Seattle than in 1994, but that was a scary town then: 69 people were murdered. Last year, in comparably sized Baltimore, almost 200 were slain.

Asked at a press conference, “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.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

t
Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

Joann and Allan Thomas are flanked in court by their attorneys Terrence Kellogg (fourth from the right) and John Henry Browne (far right) on May 10, 2022. Judge Richard Jones is presiding over the case. Sketch by Seattle-based artist Lois Silver
At drainage district corruption trial, it’s a tale of dueling conspiracies

Allan and Joann Thomas are in trial in Seattle on fraud charges.

King County logo
King County audit finds backlog of property tax exemption applications for seniors, people with disabilities, and disabled veterans

The auditors found that program expansions lead to three-times the amount of applications.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson (Screenshot from video press conference)
AG announces $518 million settlement from pharmaceutical companies over their role in opioid crisis

Most of the settlement money will be used to mitigate the opioid crisis in Washington.

Most Read