Commentary: In wake of Las Vegas shootings, let’s do something

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Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Teitzel

Editor’s note: Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Teitzel read the following remarks during the Oct. 3 City Council meeting. We are republishing them here.

Over the past two days, I’ve gone through a range of emotions—from shock to sadness to anger. I’m still angry.

Newtown, Connecticut.  Aurora, Colorado. Oakland, California. Clackamas, Oregon. Orlando, Florida. Las Vegas, Nevada. Seattle, Washington.  Mukilteo, Washington.

These are just a few of the communities that, in the past five years, have suffered incidents of multiple deaths and injuries at the hands of a gunman using a semiautomatic firearm. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of saying platitudes like “our thoughts and prayers are with them.” I’m sick of the deaths and permanent disabilities suffered by the victims. I’m sick of the spirit of fatalism that there is nothing to be done because the Constitution prevents it.

I fully support the Second Amendment to our Constitution. Citizens should have the right to lawfully carry handguns to protect themselves.   Hunters should have the right to own hunting rifles to hunt big game. Sportsmen should have the right to own shotguns to hunt game birds.

However, semiautomatic firearms have but one purpose: to kill and maim as many humans as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. How fast can a trigger be pulled? 60 times per minute? 120 times per minute? More?

As elected officials, one of our primary duties is to keep our constituents safe and secure. We need to take action to reduce the potential for mass killings we continue to witness. We can do that by supporting our state Attorney General’s efforts to introduce legislation to ban semiautomatic assault rifles in Washington. We can do that by urging our federal legislators to enact federal legislation to curb the proliferation of semiautomatic firearms. We can do that by exploring local measures in Edmonds and Snohomish County to severely restrict semiautomatic firearm ownership.

Will these measures prevent gun violence? No. But if they result in a reduction in the number of sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and parents slain or permanently injured in shootings in which semiautomatic firearms are used, they are well worth pursuing. Let’s not surrender to fatalism. Let’s do something.

— By Dave Teitzel, Edmonds City Council

25 COMMENTS

  1. YES. Could you provide us with links to directories of our state and federal legislators so we can make the phone calls and write the letters? It’s the sense of hopelessness that nothing can be done/nothing will change that makes the brutality of these murders even worse. Let’s start with making that call.

  2. It’s time for those letters and calls to be answered with more than ‘thoughts and prayers.’ I’d like to ask legislators, what is the pathway to taking away the right to have/carry military style, multi-round ammunition weaponry within our local jurisdictions? Why wait to have another city listed as a place where an unhinged individual has taken lives? Our founding fathers did not envision placing guns capable of mass execution into the grips of people with evil intent.

  3. I am a supporter of our Constitution but I doubt that the framers of our Constitution ever envisioned the types af weapons that have developed that are under the broad definition of “ the right to bear arms”.
    Isn’t it odd that to operate a motor vehicle legally, you must pass a test. To operate a boat one needs to take and pass a Coast Guard approved boating safety safety course. While to own a deadly fire arm, you get your criminal background checked…that’s it. No education…no safety test to pass….no cometancy needs to be determined? Food for thought….

    • The founding fathers were aware of cannons and semi-repeating guns and puckle-guns. The 2nd Amendment was designed to allow for citizen possession of conventional military weaponry. I work in aviation and on several occasions worked on privately owned fighter jets which could easily be used in malice. A friend of mine in Colorado owned a tank. Besides, the founding fathers never imagined the internet, but the 1st Amendment still works. Original Intent does not change with what people couldn’t imagination. The government knew they had to amend the Constitution to put controls on alcohol. What would have to be done to control guns is obvious. Recommending anything otherwise is as fruitless as praying for the victims – which seems to be a maligned thing to do these days for some reason.

  4. Thank you for this. Something has to change. I want more than thoughts and prayers.

    I experienced the terror of having my loved ones in the Vegas shooting. Hours and hours, we texted back and forth, with them not knowing what was happening. They escaped with a few bumps and bruises, but forever changed. The emotional scars are permanent. They saw people gunned down, people jumping off of bleachers for their lives. Blood everywhere. Sheer terror.

    So I can’t sit idly by while we continue to let people amass arsenals.

    A handgun or two, some rifles for hunting after being vetted and a proper waiting period? Fine. Guns that are designed solely for the demise of human life – just the WANT for one of those makes me question your sanity.

    The American gun obsession is out of control. We need some common sense to come into play, and fast.

  5. Thank you all for your comments on this very important issue. There are two things you can do now if you want to see change about the semiautomatic firearms issue. First, contact State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and add your name to those supporting a ban on these weapons. Second, please read the recent news coverage about the NRA’s opposition to a proposed ban of “bump stocks” such as the ones used by the Las Vegas killer that allowed his AR 15 semiautomatic rifles to function like machine guns and increase the killing rate. This NRA nonsense also needs to stop, and it’s influence over our state and federal legislators needs to be dramatically reduced. To do this, please carefully examine which candidates have accepted donations from the NRA. And don’t vote for any candidate accepting the NRA’s money.

    • Mr. Teitzel —

      I am with you on this issue and happy to say so. Thank you. Please continue to use your position however you can to advance your cause. The number of guns in the U. S. has more than doubled since 1968, but the types of firearms are truly terrifying. I hope you will not give up on this worthwhile effort.

      • More guns, yes. But why are murder rates and violent crime rates going down? Seems to fly in the face of those who want to tread upon the Constitution. Vote for a congress-rep who’d amend The Constitution. The City Council is powerless to do anything other than stir stuff up in our peaceful town. Black Lives Matter shot 16 cops in Dallas. A white supremacist ran over a poor girl in Charlottesville. Neither of those groups operate in Edmonds. Grandstanding by Councilman Teitzel is exactly the sort of thing that can set them off.

  6. I can only hope that people will “do something” with their vote. There have been too many times where those who have been angered by gun violence haven’t let it be reflected in how they vote.
    What is the point of being angered if you keep voting in those who have the power to do something about it (but refuse to)?

  7. Dave Teizel. About half of all ruffles are semiautomatic and almost all handguns are. All you can do is support an Amendment to the US Constitution.

    As an elected leader, you should not be hysterical. The facts are, citizens are buying more and more guns but our society is becoming safer and safer by every metric. Yes, some nations have low murder rates (like us) and few guns, but every nation that has a high murder rate also has strict prohibitions on guns. There is no society with many guns and many murders. Guns and murder rates are non sequitur. France banned guns and still full auto riffles kill people in their nightclubs. The real tragedy in Vegas was that it took more than 70 minutes for someone armed to respond. That is avoidable. I was in Vegas last week. I saw armed guards at every hotel. Message received from effective leaders.

    Here’s something the Edmonds City Council can actually do (instead of writing to myEdmondsNews); put blockades on 5th and on Bell Street to prevent some maniac from driving a truck through our Farmers Market. In France terrorist killed hundreds of people last year by driving moving trucks through street markets. Dave get on it or it will be your fault if such a tragedy actually occurs.

    • I recommended these [see link] to Edmonds City Council earlier this year. I also spoke to a coordinator for our Farmers Market at the market one morning. Dave Teitzle, please make a motion to get these removable barriers set up on Bell and 5th. America is a great place, and we should focus on what’s in our purview.
      http://www.bollardsusa.com/removablebollards.html

    • And a clarification and apology… Dave, it would not be your fault if a maniac did bad things. My comment was in part frustration over tacit warnings over security at the farmers market being ignored and your post saying it’s your duty to keep us safe and secure. Personal safety and security are an individual’s responsibility. Barriers at the market are a prudent measure that the Council can make.

  8. Thank you for the emotional post Council Member Teitzel. You are among the millions of Americans that mourn over these types of tragedies and then look to enact change to prevent the pain of that mourning from happening again to you and those effected. I truly appreciate the courage you exhibit by posting on this subject and willingness to respond.

    However, I suggest you and others pump the brakes a bit and get the facts, terminology and plan in place before throwing out statements like “something needs to be done”. As many current and past city leaders make virtuous public statements simply stating their position after an event. But, never produce anything to actually effect change.
    http://myedmondsnews.com/2017/06/edmonds-city-council-oks-resolution-supporting-paris-accord-climate-change/
    http://myedmondsnews.com/2017/09/city-council-edmonds-will-indigenous-peoples-day-not-columbus-day/
    http://myedmondsnews.com/2017/08/edmonds-mayor-charlottesville-beyond/

    a) There is no such thing as a semi-automatic weapon. This is term invented by gun-control advocates. A weapon is either automatic or it is not. Automatic weapons have been outlawed for decades.
    b) Where is the dividing line between legal and illegal weapons?
    c) Whom determines that dividing line? How?
    d) The device (bump-stock) used by this madman was never an original part of the weapons he used. (Are you saying we should look at laws associated with modifying weapons?)
    e) It has been proven most perpetrators of horrific crimes like this have serious mental issues that have gone unaddressed. (Are you proposing mental health background checks for the purchase of firearms?) (If yes, what are the defining factors for approval/denial? Whom determines the criteria?)
    f) Since mental health is the predominant root cause issue of these events, what is your plan to address mental illness?

    I’m not trying to be antagonistic any way and again appreciate your courage to make a public statement. Just trying to communicate the kind of information the citizens of Edmonds would appreciate hearing from their elected leaders.

  9. Mr. Peterson,
    In response to e) and f), it certainly is NOT “proven” that most perpetrators of mass shootings have a serious mental illness, and in most cases mental illness is NOT the “root cause.” Anger and desire for revenge are more common factors. The Las Vegas shooter had no apparent history or symptoms of mental illness. Let’s look at evidence instead of scapegoating the mentally ill, who are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
    Here are some links to get started, for anyone who is interested in learning more:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/10/why-better-mental-health-care-wont-stop-mass-shootings/541965/
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/most-mass-shooters-arent-mentally-ill-so-why-push-better-treatment-as-the-answer/2016/05/17/70034918-1308-11e6-8967-7ac733c56f12_story.html?utm_term=.057c9c3cad25
    psychiatryonline.org.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10…/appi.books.9781615371099
    Also in response to e) there are already “mental health background checks” for purchasing firearms, which the Vegas shooter passed. Federal law mandates that anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution cannot own a gun. Washington State’s implementation of this law is described here:
    http://lawcenter.giffords.org/mental-health-reporting-in-washington/

    What do nearly all mass shooters have in common, then, if not mental illness? Gender. It would literally be more accurate to say that maleness is the “predominant root cause issue of these events.” But I doubt anyone has a plan to address that. . .

    • As a man, I absolutely admit that we commit more crime than women. There are fundamental differences between men and women, but I thought we werent supposed to point that out these days. Men are imprisoned 10 to 1 over women. Everyone is equal, so that must just be institutional bias. #MGTOW

    • Ms. Connell,

      If I came across as scapegoating mental health suffers, I apologize. Most people would consider someone that cannot deal with displaced anger and plotting to attack innocent others as mentally and emotionally unstable. But to me, it now appears you are scapegoating men as the problem.

      Rather than scapegoating, how about if the conversation comes back to my original point. Our city leaders repeatedly make virtuous statements publicly without even knowing the correct terminology, facts or producing a plan.

      I was simply advising council member Teitzel that rather than platitudes, let’s hear real plans to effect change. So none of have to experience the horror of a mass shooting again.

      • My intention was not to criticize men, rather to call attention to how it is not logical or evidence-based to blame mass shootings on mental illness (any more than it would be to blame them on men). I forgot how difficult it is to read tone online, and apologize for any offense.

        • Marisa, not offended at all. You went above and beyond here, thank you. I’m was joking, really. I’ve heard the “toxic masculinity” meme making its way around MSNBC and web, so I know where it comes from and think it’s funny. I wish we could put Maddow and Alex Jones in a glass room for a day.

          Both you and Ed Peterson are correct. Mental illness and “maleness” are in the venn diagram of these tragedies. That said, these criminals are surrounded by people ignore all of the signs. People who should know better will even bully those who are sick/deranged which compounds the issue. Like you said; it’s not just mental illness. Even professional criminologists can’t make a science out of why this happens.

          What is known though; there are more guns than ever and less violent crime than ever, meaning guns and crime are non-sequitur. You can tell that Dave Teitzel has higher political aspirations because he didn’t mention the Black Lives Matter shooting of 17 cops in Dallas, or the Berni campaign staffer who shot up the GOP baseball game, or Seth Rich who was killed in DC (likely for leaking the DNC emails) in his list of tragedies. In the case of the shooting he mentioned in Seattle, there’s a pretty good chance she will be exonerated: http://www.king5.com/news/crime/couple-pleads-not-guilty-to-charges-involving-shooting-at-uw-protest/436459121 I think she was pretty dumb for bringing her gun to an event where people “punch nazis” before wondering if the alleged nazi has a Concealed Carry Permits, but it’s perfectly in her right.

          In the meantime I hope Dave Teitzel uses his platform more responsibly because, empirically speaking, the way he uses his station is what triggers crazies to organize. I don’t want to see a white supremacist march in Edmonds. Teresa Wippel does a fantastic job, but usually doesn’t publish non-EdmondsNews.

    • Are you new to Reddit? Reddit [in general] is sick and full of hate. Check out the feminist Reddit page for more of the same. #MGTOW is men’s rights movement. It’s half-facetious. There are men who are tired of being called sexists, losing their kids, paying alimony, falsely accused of crimes (remember Mattress Girl?). There’s no push to get the disproportionate amount of men out of jails (as you point out, criminals are usually men), or to get more woman into coal mining jobs (as I point out, woman aren’t usually coal miners). Check your privileged kind of stuff, am I right?

      I’ve written about it here:
      https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/google-proves-feminism-stem-do-mix-matthew-richardson/

  10. At least I know how to vote in the upcoming election: Hint, NOT Dave Teitzel. Anyone that aligns themselves with our AG (Sideshow Bob) immediately loses my support.

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