West Views: Take advantage of Seattle-area gun safety discounts

The Seattle Times

If recent statistics are any indication, no amount of holiday cheer could halt gun violence throughout the region.

The Seattle Police Department’s blog features the usual key words in its latest crime reports: “stolen gun,” “teen shot in ankle,” “shots fired at Aurora Motel,” “Broadway and Pike shooting” — and that’s just since Nov. 16.

A drive-by shooting last weekend in Seattle’s bustling Capitol Hill neighborhood injured five people and leaves this community once again pondering what can be done to keep everyone safer.

A simple first step would be for gun owners to keep their weapons locked up so they do not get into the wrong hands. Law enforcement reports that many guns used by criminals are stolen. Also, suicides make up 70 percent of gun-related deaths in King County.

With shopping deals flashing before consumers’ eyes, anyone who is around firearms should consider taking advantage of a special deal that Public Health — Seattle and King County has struck with some gun retailers through the end of December.

Shoppers can receive 10 percent to 15 percent off gun-storage devices and lockboxes by mentioning “Public Health” or “LOK-IT-UP” at participating retailers.

This is a pragmatic approach to helping solve a public health and safety crisis.

Between 2010 and 2014, 158 children in Washington were hospitalized from gunshot-related wounds — 108 of those teens and children died. (In King County, that number includes 42 hospitalized and 23 killed.)

Here’s another estimate that should concern parents: About 200,000 children statewide live in households with unlocked firearms.

Individuals can, and should, take simple steps to protect their families.

To see the list of participating gun retailers, go to seati.ms/kcguns.

Refugee response should be reasonable, not reactionary

Times-News (Twin Falls)

Republicans from local legislators to U. S. House Speaker Paul Ryan are calling for a halt to relocating Syrian refugees in the United States in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But so far, there’s no sure indication that any of the perpetrators were refugees — of those who have been identified, all have been European nationals.

Still, Idaho’s congressional delegation and Gov. Butch Otter called for a timeout until the vetting process can be reviewed.

We agree that now is a time for caution. It is not, however, a time for rushed judgments, overreactions and Islamophobia.

The optimists in us hope a potential pause in the refugee program will allow a thorough review of the vetting process and will, in the end, assuage doubts already held by some Idahoans that the system is porous. The pessimists in us worry this could be the first step toward squashing a program that’s allowed thousands of victims from around the world safekeeping in Idaho and the opportunity to contribute to our great state.

However we proceed, let’s be clear about this: Conflating refugees with terrorists is morally unacceptable. If our goal is to prevent terrorists from entering this country, let’s also review the process for granting student visas and work permits. Let’s talk more about border security. There are plenty of ways to enter this country, and through the refugee program is already one of the most difficult.