Poor Tacoma, a nice little town 15 miles or so south of Seattle. It’s a little beat up, but with some nice old architecture from the 19th and early 20th century days of lumber and fishing bounty. Lately, it’s built a Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum which aim to put the city, normally in the shadow of much larger Seattle, on the cultural map.
But Tacoma has become the poster child of gun violence and a special example of the power the NRA has wrought in permitting dangerous assault weapons to flood our cities. A few years ago, the chief of police, David Brame, shot his wife to death with his service weapon in a shopping center parking lot. The city manager knew the chief was having an affair with his deputy and knew about the troubled marriage but did nothing, even after Brame threatened her with a gun. The city council let the manager go but now he’s a city manager for another municipality somewhere in California.
Tacoma can also lay claim to being the place where John Muhammad bought the Bushmaster assault rifle used in his deadly Beltway shooting rampage in which he murdered 13 people. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed suit against Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma (which subsequently went out of business) with the following statement:
The suit charged Bull’s Eye with operating its gun shop in such a grossly negligent manner that scores of guns, including the high-powered Bushmaster, inexplicably “disappeared” from the store. The suit asserts that Bull’s Eye took the gun into its inventory in July of 2002, that both sniper suspects had visited the store after that date, and that Bull’s Eye did not report the gun missing to authorities until after it was confiscated from the suspects following their arrest. Because both sniper suspects were legally prohibited from buying guns, they could not have obtained the gun without the gun shop’s negligence. Bushmaster Firearms is charged with negligence in continuing to sell high-firepower assault rifles designed for combat use through Bull’s Eye even though prior government audits of the store had revealed hundreds of missing guns.
Recently, Congress passed what I call the “get out of jail free” law barring lawsuits against gun manufacturers in precisely these types of cases. This is one of the most egregious and outrageous bills passed during the current Congress and designed to put a brick wall in front of lawsuits like the one I described above.
And the latest Tacoma gun violence yesterday involved a 20 year old troubled boy, Dominick Maldonado who used his assault rifle to shoot up the Tacoma Mall, wounding seven people, one seriously. Luckily the boy was troubled but not a homicidal maniac like Malvo and Muhammad. He didn’t want to kill anyone, just draw attention to the bad lot in life he drew. “The world will feel my anger,” he text-messaged a friend just before the rampage began.
The Seattle Times, and all national media coverage, omits a very significant element of this story :
1. how did Maldonado get or buy his assault rifle?
2. if he bought it, the reporters should ask the seller whether or not he had to check the shooter’s criminal record before selling it to him. He had a criminal history of burglary, theft, and drug problems.
3. why was this troubled youth allowed to buy an assault rifle?
I know it’s a wacky dream, but…the next NRA national convention belongs in Tacoma. There (too bad Charlton Heston won’t be hoisting that Revolutionary War musket aloft as he delivers his keynote address), when the keynote speaker addresses the crowd they should project massive images of the Tacoma Mall, Bull’s Eye Shooters Supply and David Brame on the screen behind him along with the motto: “This city–and gun violence–brought to you by those fine folks of the NRA.”
Tacoma doesn’t deserve the bad rap as I noted above. There are some lovely elements to it. Visit here for a gorgeous photo gallery of Tacoma’s public art. It’s not just Tacoma’s fault, it’s OUR fault because we let our Congress be bought lock, stock and barrel by gun interests and the NRA. God help me but I half wish that the next gun rampage would claim the life of a child of Denny Hastert, Tom DeLay, Wayne LaPierre, or a gun industry CEO. Just let ’em know how it feels to live the rest of your life without that beloved child because a disturbed person got hold of an assault rifle and killed a lot of people.
Technorati tags: Brame, Tacoma, guns, NRA , Maldonado