Challenge to Seattle Mayor Durkan, media: Define ‘Gun Violence’

What is ‘gun violence?’ Does this image fall within the loose definition of ‘gun violence?’ (Dave Workman)

In the wake of downtown Seattle’s wild shooting spree, which appears now to have been a gunfight involving two 24-year-old career criminals who legally could not possess firearms, there is plenty of talk about “gun violence” and an Op-Ed in the Seattle Times about “firearm violence” and how to prevent it.

Conservative Firing Line did an experiment, using two different search engines to find out how many references there are to “gun violence.” The number is astronomical, reaching into the hundreds of millions, including this one.

Liberal Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wasted little time exploiting the shooting that left one woman dead and seven other persons, including a 9-year-old boy, wounded. She tweeted, “Gun violence anywhere is unacceptable, and it is especially tragic when it occurs in the heart of our city, where tens of thousands of people work, shop and live.”

Not a word about the two suspects still on the loose, who have a combined record of at least 65 arrests and 35 criminal convictions between them. They did not buy their guns legally, nor were they carrying legally, but all Durkan and her contemporaries can suggest are laws that affect honest gun owners while having no hope at all of preventing a single violent crime.

And still “gun violence” is not defined.

An Op-Ed in the Seattle Times Wednesday by doctors Frederick P. Rivara and Ali Rowhani-Rahbar suggests bills now being considered by the Washington Legislature might provide solutions, but again they only seem to inconvenience law-abiding gun owners.

Headlined “Firearm violence affects all of us, and we have the power to prevent it,” perhaps because the term “gun violence” is outliving its usefulness, the 635-word essay is one more call for passage of new gun control proposals.

“These include,” the doctors wrote, “Senate Bill 6077, which would prohibit possession or purchase of high capacity magazines (holding more than 10 rounds); Senate Bill 6288, which would create a Washington state office of firearm violence prevention, and improve data on firearm injuries as well as administer grants to communities to prevent firearm injuries; Senate Bill 6553, which would facilitate access to appropriate mental-health treatment for victims of gun violence; House Bill 2519, which would apply similar restrictions to purchase of ammunition as now apply to purchase of firearms; and Senate Bill 6294, which sets firearm safety training requirements to obtain a concealed pistol license.”

Lawmakers are considering the creation of a whole new bureaucracy, the state “office of firearm violence prevention,” whatever that is. There doesn’t seem to be any funding mechanism, yet this office will be tasked with “Administering the Washington firearm violence intervention and prevention grant program,” which the bill also creates.

The doctors also seem to support background checks for ammunition purchases. In California, this has already been tried, with disastrous results. More than 60,000 wrongful denials were reported in an Op-Ed that appeared in the Sacramento Bee in December.

“Gun violence” is typically the catch-all term used by gun prohibition lobbyists and activists that lumps together homicides, suicides, accidents and justifiable use-of-force incidents involving police or private citizens. But ask for a clear definition and it is elusive, or it might apply to anytime a firearm is discharged, regardless the circumstances. So, does target shooting or hunting fall within the definition? How about competition or recreational shooting? What about firearms safety training?

The term has become part of the lexicon, but is that fair? Second Amendment activists dislike it because it demonizes firearms. Nobody talks about “knife violence” when someone is fatally stabbed, or “blunt instrument violence” when someone is assaulted with a baseball bat or hammer.

Only the gun gets the blame. Only the gun wears the proverbial scarlet letter.

So far as grassroots activists are concerned, it’s a bum rap.


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