After three people died and six others were wounded in what Seattle officials were calling a “mass shooting” at a hookah lounge early Sunday morning, Democrat Mayor Bruce Harrell issued a statement suggesting the blame lies with Washington State’s 40-year-old model preemption statute.
The killings brought the total number of Jet City murders this year to 47, and with four months remaining on the 2023 calendar, that number is likely to rise, according to the Twitter page Seattle Homicides, which is not connected to the Seattle Police Department.
According to KOMO News, the local ABC affiliate, the dead included two men, aged 22 and 32, and a 30-year-old woman, who died after being transported to the hospital. They have been identified as Jonathan Bishu, 22, Trevis Bellard, 32, and Nadia Kassa, age 30, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s office. They all reportedly suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
Harrell’s statement appeared on his website, announcing he will continue to partner with state legislators in his long running effort to repeal Washington State’s firearms preemption statute, first adopted in 1983 and strengthened in 1985. It has become a model used by other states to pattern their similar preemption laws.
2023 YTD Total: 47*
2023 Fatal Police Shootings: 0
2022 Total: 57
2022 Fatal Police Shootings: 3
10 Year Average: 31.5
Record High: 69 in 1994
*Does not include the death of Baby Kwon
— Seattle Homicide (@HomicideSeattle) August 20, 2023
After Harrell’s statement was publicized, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms—coincidentally based in nearby Bellevue—accused Harrell of exploiting the tragedy to advance his crusade against the preemption law.
“Mayor Harrell reminds us he is ‘partnering’ with state lawmakers to ‘end state preemption over firearms’ so the city can adopt policies which, experience tells us, will only impact law-abiding citizens and not prevent a single tragedy,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “Bruce Harrell was on the city council in 2015 when they hastily adopted the city’s notorious tax on gun and ammunition sales. In the years since, homicides have more than doubled in Seattle, the gun tax revenue has never come close to the forecast and the mayor and his allies continue blaming guns when they should be blaming the people misusing those guns.”
In 2016, as noted at Ammoland News, there were 20 murders. It was the first full year following adoption of the gun tax. Last year, the city logged 52 slayings, according to Seattle Police data.
“Mayor Harrell seems to forget that Seattle did adopt a policy—the gun tax—on the promise it would help prevent gun-related violence and the past eight years have shown it to be a total failure,” he added. “Instead of talking about getting guns off the street, how about focusing on getting criminals off the street?”
KOMO is running an opinion poll asking whether respondents “believe your elected leaders’ policies have led to an increase in crime?” The vote has been running 94-95 percent in the “Yes” column and “5-6 percent in the “No” column.
According to KOMO, Seattle police investigators recovered five guns at the crime scene. Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz told reporters the number of shootings this summer in the city is down, but the number of shots fired at each incident is up.