Thursday’s dramatic shoplift-turned-fatal-shooting that sent two Seattle police officers to the hospital and one perpetrator to the Medical Examiner’s office is getting national attention for several reasons, including the fact that this whole episode apparently started over the theft of beer.
To some observers, that hardly seems worth pulling a gun on police and ending up dead. It is not clear whether the gunman took his own life or was felled by police rounds in an exchange of gunfire.
Two other suspects are in custody, including an unidentified 17-year-old girl who allegedly struck one police officer on the head with a bottle. One officer was seriously wounded and another was saved by her ballistic vest after having been hit in the chest area. The wounded officer is in serious but stable condition.
The unidentified dead man is only being described as a 19-year-old. That raises another issue, one that Seattle-based gun control proponents may try to spin around the tired cliché about the “easy availability of guns.”
That’s only if one obtains a firearm illegally. Passage of Initiative 594 in 2014 mandates a background check for the transfer of a firearm even in a private transaction, which obviously didn’t happen here because 19-year-olds can’t legally complete a background check for a handgun. Police are likely tracing that firearm to determine whether it was stolen.
Additionally, nobody under age 21 can legally carry a concealed loaded handgun in public because the state doesn’t issue concealed pistol licenses to anyone under that age. At last check with the state Department of Licensing, there were more than 578,000 active Washington State CPLs in circulation, including more than 100,000 in King County, where Seattle is located.
As noted by the Seattle Times, the story about the dead suspect changed several times. “At an afternoon news briefing near the shooting scene,” the newspaper reported, “Deputy Police Chief Carmen Best said that aside from the wounded officers, no one else had been injured. A short time later, a police spokesman said the male suspect suffered ‘significant injuries.’”
Finally, police confirmed the suspect was dead.
Shoplifting is a crime, but not the kind of thing that should lead to a gun battle. While all of that is being sorted out, one thing is clear. The gun control laws that have been passed on the promise that they would help prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands once again failed. And that failure played out on live television Thursday in the city where the gun control groups who pressed for those laws are headquartered.