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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

May 29, 2013 at 5:16 PM

McGinn considered gun buyback announcement at Cafe Racer

Mayor Mike McGinn considered announcing the city’s second gun buyback Thursday at Cafe Racer, a year after a gunman killed four people there and a fifth downtown. The mayor’s staff ultimately concluded that “it would not be appropriate to do so on the one year anniversary,” said Aaron Pickus, McGinn’s spokesman.

The mayor’s staff acknowledged that it contacted Cafe Racer about making the announcement. McGinn was asked about a planned second gun buyback after an unrelated Wednesday morning news conference, but said his office wasn’t yet ready to announce a date or place.

KIRO radio first reported that the mayor considered and then decided against Cafe Racer as the site of the announcement. The cafe plans to be closed Thursday in memory of those killed.

A gunman who suffered from mental illness fatally shot Drew Keriakedes, Joe Albanese, Kimberly Layfield and Donald Largen at Café Racer on May 30, 2012. They were all regulars at the University District café. The café’s baker, Len Meuse, was wounded. The gunman, Ian Stawicki, later shot and killed another woman, Gloria Leonidas near Town Hall. After a citywide manhunt, Stawicki killed himself on a West Seattle street once police caught up with him.

One of McGinn’s opponents for Seattle mayor questioned McGinn’s judgment in considering  announcing a gun buyback at the scene of a mass killing.

“I felt an immediate pang for the people who lost family in the shooting,” said Peter Steinbrueck, a former city councilmember and one of eight challengers to McGinn. “It sounds grossly insensitive.”

It’s the second time in a month that a McGinn attempt at publicity has produced more negative press than positive. On May 9, the mayor announced that guns seized in the first gun buyback in January would be melted down and turned into peace plaques inscribed with the words of Seattle school children.

McGinn held the news conference even though he had learned that morning that police already had melted down the 716 weapons seized. He subsequently apologized “for not being more forthcoming at our news conference. We will be using metal from guns acquired at our next gun buyback for our Weapons to Words youth outreach program.”

The January gun buyback was itself controversial. Both gun-rights and gun-control advocates questioned the effort and said research had found no correlation between such programs and a reduction in violence. The actual event turned into what McGinn characterized as an “open-air gun bazaar” when private dealers showed up to offer cash to people standing in a long line under a Seattle freeway to exchange firearms for Target and Amazon gift cards.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: gun buyback, mike mcginn

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