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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Can God Stop Seattle's Gun Problem?

Posted by on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Seattle lawmakers are busy brainstorming ways of tweaking gun laws to put a cap on the violence we've experienced so far this year. But it's a long, tedious process, further complicated by the fact that state law prevents city officials from striking out on their own—our city gun laws, rules, ordinances, whathaveyou, can't be more restrictive than the state's own laws (and our gun-humping state legislature has a terrible track record passing gun restrictions).

In the meantime, Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell has at least one good idea for changing Seattle's gun culture, and it involves God. Harrell says he's spoken with a number of pastors about putting together a gang outreach program that would combine clergy members with other mentoring organizations to get gang members off the streets and in work or education programs.

The program is tentatively titled, "Saving the Streets and Saving Souls" (SSS).

Harrell pictures clergy members and mentoring organizations offering at-risk youth paths to education and job training, and a spiritual safety net. He imagines setting up anonymous gun drop-offs to get firearms off the streets. "We have to have safe drop-offs where grandmothers, aunts, uncles, friends, can turn in guns without inquiries or questions," Harrell says. "Then change the culture by messaging in all communities that we need to get these guns off the streets."

"Every pastor I've spoken to has absolutely loved the idea," he continues. "Church is a huge part of neighborhood culture, especially in the south end. This is a way to help kids get back on the right track while hopefully cutting down on gang and gun violence."

At this point, Harrell says he's not sure where such drop-offs would be appropriate (my vote's for the Puyallup Fair!) but he's busy crafting a fall budget proposal to fund SSS. "In my mind, it would be nice for $500,000," says Harrell.

I'd bet my bottom bunker that Slog has plenty of great ideas for where anonymous gun drop-offs would be appropriate.

Here's why Harrell believes something like SSS is necessary: "In the minds of the law, you can have four people that all look alike: all selling drugs, all gang-related, all committing crimes," he says. "But these are individuals—three of those four could be bullied by the fourth. What these outreach workers are capable of doing is understanding their individual stories. It could involve arrest, it could involve rehabilitation. But until we understand the stories of these unique individuals, we’re going to struggle with how to deal with them. Because what we’re doing now, using the same approach, isn’t working."


Comments (27) RSS

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biffp 1
Gun buyback.
Posted by biffp on June 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 2
Just as I've always said. When you are at the helm of state, or nation or a city and a storm is brewing ahead. Let go of the wheel and let JESUS pilot you through the troubles!

Good fucking shitfaces Christ on a crutch. We are fucked...
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on June 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 3
This is likely to be as effective as any legislated solution anyway, so why not.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 12, 2012 at 2:27 PM · Report this
Vince 4
Bruce Harrell is a freaking jackass. Those thugs know only one language - prison. Make the police do their job and fire Harrell. And don't be giving a bunch of phony preachers tax money.
Posted by Vince on June 12, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
If churches are so much part of the neighborhood, then why isn't their influence greater? What would be different with this initiative and why would gang members listen? Not sure I get the value.
Posted by westello on June 12, 2012 at 2:34 PM · Report this
Gun buybacks are a good idea. That being said, this years violence is an anomaly. Regardless, there is nothing that legislation can do to stop the gun violence. If not guns, then other weapons will be used. It is no secret that we are living in a time of very low violence, with less violence than our Earth has ever experienced before.

Guns don't kill people. Legislation doesn't stop people from killing. A gun in my grandma's hand saved her life from a knife wielding attacker, and at that time she was 79 years old, and it was her gun that saved her, and she was in Chicago during the gun ban, when this happened to her. So no, guns aren't in and of themselves a bad thing, we in fact, have our freedom because of guns. No argument can disprove this, because it is a simple fact that guns changed the landscape so a single individual can protect themselves from an attack from a much more powerful and dangerous person, just like my grandma. She swears that she would not be alive today if she wasn't armed on that perilous day...
Posted by scratchmaster joe on June 12, 2012 at 2:57 PM · Report this
I suspect a lot of the gang kids come from dysfunctional families--increased psychological and family counseling might help in concert with better educational and career opportunities.

I also think Harrell is a slug for believing the opiate of deity worship will turn these kids around when the religion opiate for many seattle area blacks has been very prevalent to no effect. It's a patronizing ruse to avoid getting at the root causes of the problems.
Posted by neo-realist on June 12, 2012 at 2:59 PM · Report this
You do know that the Puyallup Fairgrounds are the site of Washington's (and possibly the Northwest's) largest gun show, right?
Posted by Tyler Pierce on June 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 9
Ian Stawicki didn't attend a church in the South End. He wasn't part of "neighborhood culture" (nice euphemism) in the South End. He was an angry loner, but also a law-abiding gun owner of 6 handguns, with the legal right to carry a concealed weapon.

Harrell's stupid idea is lipstick on a pig.
Posted by Max Solomon on June 12, 2012 at 3:10 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 10
Great. Get the tax freeloaders to do the social work that the state & local governments should be doing. This could never turn into a problem, like a Catholic hospital or private prison chain gangs, could it? Let someone else deal with a problem no one else wants. They couldn't possibly have any ulterior motives.
Posted by Sir Vic on June 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
treacle 11
While I am opposed to involving the church in state matters, I'm willing to take this solution as the lesser of two evils (church involvement vs. do nothing). Plus it will likely cost the state very little, and probably result in action accomplished.

My atheist/pantheist sensibilities rankle, though.

As to the gun return location, you forgot to mention:
.The Stranger offices
.at the base of the Fremont Troll
.City Hall
.the I-5 walk-through tunnel
Posted by treacle on June 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Rujax! 12
Next thing is the dumb fuck runs for Mayor.
Posted by Rujax! on June 12, 2012 at 3:27 PM · Report this
if you all think Seattle has a gun culture it proves you are no more then radical extremists who along with your seed be should be wiped from the face of the earth.
Posted by monster from publicola on June 12, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
I don't really need to point out that the only people who turn in guns to an anonymous drop-off will be:
A. People with no intention of shooting anyone else, or;
B. Really, really stupid people who already have shot someone and want to get rid of the evidence, and that;
C. Some violent fucker who comes home to find his piece missing is likely to get pretty pissed off and beat the shit out of or kill the mother, girlfriend, etc. that stole it from him.

Do I?
Posted by NateMan on June 12, 2012 at 3:50 PM · Report this
JonnoN 15
@6 yea, I get so tired of hearing about all those drive-by stabbings in England, with all those innocent bystanders, um, stabbed
Posted by JonnoN on June 12, 2012 at 3:54 PM · Report this
I think Harrell's idea is great. Why shouldnt we be looking for people that can actually contect with troubled individuals on the streets? Government has tried stricter laws, and that didnt work. As for those that critique the clergymen for lacking influence, perhaps if they had someone in power providing them resources and funding, their influence would increase.
Posted by jacksont on June 12, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
If it wasn't for the crazy deranged white folks. We would be at about the same rate of murders. Well below the national average. No gun control= no end to gun violence. Maybe we should do outreach to deranged mass killers who for the most part are white.
Posted by SeMe on June 12, 2012 at 4:49 PM · Report this
@16: Yeah, because that's what we need more of: clergymen with power. I'll stick with the guns, thanks. They can only fuck you up in this life rather than the next one too - assuming it exists, of course. And deranged killers have a certain honesty and clarity of purpose so often lacking in churchmen. At least they admit their sole goal is ruining your life.
Posted by NateMan on June 12, 2012 at 5:12 PM · Report this
icouldliveinhope 19
@9: The Stawicki case was tragic, but I don't think that's what Harrell is trying to address here. Tons of other gun violence has been on the rise this year, and most of it WAS in the south-end, and it's also tragic. It's kind of silly to call out Harrell's south-end "euphemism" if you're only addressing violence that happens in the much-whiter north end.

As for Harrell's plan itself, I'm with @3 here. Just arresting people isn't really doing shit so far, right? But as someone else said already, pouring more resources into family counseling and mental health outreach might be a more effective solution that doesn't involve putting a bunch of guns in a however-well-secured bucket.

Posted by icouldliveinhope on June 12, 2012 at 5:20 PM · Report this
Ian Awesome 20
What will cease gun violence? Getting these kids better education and jobs. Then they won't need to commit crime in order to get by... Uh, and they'll have an education and a job.
Posted by Ian Awesome on June 12, 2012 at 6:21 PM · Report this
"Getting these kids better education and jobs"

They were offered an education, and along with the useless parent who spawned them, chose not to take it. Drop a Korean kid in the same schools and you'll get a college in 10 yrs. you can't fix fuck ups.
Posted by Ian Finklewanker on June 12, 2012 at 7:20 PM · Report this
@20 The murder rate in the US is more than 6 times that of Spain, more than 5 times that of Italy, and more than 3 times that of Ireland. All those countries are in far worse economic trouble than we are. Obviously there is a connection between poverty and crime, but I don't think it is as simple as people with no money doing what they have to do to get by.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on June 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 23
@19: i'm addressing all gun violence. white or "neighborhood", Amoklauf, familycide, random, joy, wounded male pride. All shootings without purpose.

of course Harrell's not trying to address Amoklauf killings. no one can - that's cat's out of the bag, permanently. they can, do, and will happen anywhere, anytime, from now until the end of America. even in the "neighborhood culture" of the south end (i.e. the schizophrenic asian woman who killed her family on Beacon Hill).

pastors won't do shit. the idiots and crazies and hoarders with the guns aren't listening.
Posted by Max Solomon on June 12, 2012 at 8:14 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 24
I think it's a wonderful idea, provided that:

1.) All the firearms collected are melted down and cast into a 500' statue of The Living Christ, to be located at the top of Capitol Hill.

2.) A fund is created to provide free abortion and sterilization on demand, to be funded by a "birth tax" on anyone born to a family making more than $500k/year.

(I admit it. That last one is there mostly to drive the troll right over the edge)
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on June 12, 2012 at 8:27 PM · Report this
@23 According to FBI statistics for 2010 (2011 stats aren't out yet) in the majority of murder cases in which the the perpetrator's race was know, the killer was black. In the majority of cases in which the murder's age was know he or she was under 30 and more than 90% of murders are committed by men. As a middle aged white guy Ian Stawicki would have been an atypical murder suspect. A schizophrenic asian woman who kills her family would be even more unusual. Sensational crimes like those get a lot of media attention but they're not the way people generally get killed.…
Posted by Ken Mehlman on June 12, 2012 at 8:45 PM · Report this
The mailboxes choice in the slog poll isn't very smart. Postal workers empty those mailboxes. Guns. Postal workers. Ring any bells?
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on June 12, 2012 at 10:54 PM · Report this
"Seattle lawmakers are busy brainstorming ways of tweaking gun laws to put a cap on the violence we've experienced so far this year."

How about by getting government regulations out of the way and making guns as easy to get as cellphones? We need smaller govt, not more of it! The price would climb quickly putting them out of reach of local hoods as gun stores identified the booming unregulated market. If EVERYONE had a gun even nutjobs who flip out wouldn't "Go postal" because they'd be OBLITERATED by a dozen people standing around in a hail of bullets.
Posted by Lifetime Libertarian on June 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM · Report this

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