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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 20, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Shooting on Metro bus in downtown Seattle

Learn about mental illness, de-escalation

DeLoy Dupuis, the King County Metro bus driver who was involved in the shooting in downtown Seattle. [John Lok, The Seattle Times.]

DeLoy Dupuis, the King County Metro bus driver who was involved in the shooting in downtown Seattle. [John Lok, The Seattle Times.]

It seems nothing short of a miracle that the Metro driver who recently suffered an armed assault survived, let alone with relatively minimal physical injury. [“Metro driver recalls terror, riders who rushed to help,” page one, Aug. 14.]

It is fortunate that this occurred in an area with a high concentration of law-enforcement personnel, who were able to respond quickly.

I am a fellow Metro transit driver, and dealing directly with persons affected by mental illness is just one part of our job. However, situational de-escalation training provided by Metro Transit is modest — I received far more training in a previous tech-support job.

The gunman in this incident was obviously a person with long-standing, deep-seated issues with mental health and substance abuse. As mental-health services at all levels of our governments are stretched to the breaking point, and as King County is not likely to spring for additional training in these budget-challenged times, I would like to propose we, as both a transit workforce and as a community, move forward at a grass-roots level.

There is a national movement afoot called Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). MHFA is designed to provide an informed method for dealing constructively with individuals in a heightened state of distress.

A small tool may be better than no tool. Even with the fastest possible police response time, the seconds that transpire before police can arrive can be a few seconds too long.

Ann Ziegler, Metro Transit operator, Seattle

Guns are too easy to get

A fraction of the 716 guns obtained by Seattle during the city's gun buyback in January. [Ken Lambert, The Seattle Times.]

A fraction of the 716 guns obtained by Seattle during the city’s gun buyback in January. [Ken Lambert, The Seattle Times.]

The recent article on the Seattle Police Department’s investigation of the bus shooting states that “among the unanswered questions is how Duckworth obtained the revolver used to shoot Dupuis. A felon with a history of drug offenses and mental-health issues, he was not allowed to carry a firearm.” [“Around the Northwest: Long probe seen in bus shooting,” NW Friday, Aug. 16.]

For anyone who was on the street during the city gun buyback this January, the answer to “how” is an easy one. I was at the buyback to get rid of one of my grandfather’s old guns, and as I walked the three blocks from my car to the collection point, I was approached by no less than five individuals offering to buy my gun.

I was stunned to learn that it would have been entirely legal for me to have sold my gun to one of these guys.

[Editor’s note: According to the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: “A person may sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of his State, if he does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law.”]

The lesson here is that buying guns in this state can be quite simple and free of paperwork and background checks, no matter what the state of your mental health is, or your criminal history.

If you want to stop this sort of ridiculous and dangerous market, sign and support Initiative 594 to the state Legislature. Supported by the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the initiative would require background checks for all gun sales.

Matt Huston, Seattle

0 Comments | More in Gun control, Mental illness, Public safety, Seattle | Topics: drivers, guns, mental illness

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