SEATTLE – A national organization is using Wednesday’s deadly shootings in Seattle to push for new gun laws in Washington state. It says a one word change to the law could have prevented someone like Ian Stawicki, the mentally troubled man who shot and killed five people, from getting a concealed weapons permit.
"There are some people who should not own a gun. It can be a devastating thing,” said Nina Schumacher, niece of one of the victims in the shooting at Café Racer.
"In this case police had no choice but to issue a dangerous person a license to carry loaded guns in public,” said Daniel Vice with anti-gun group the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The Brady Campaign wants lawmakers to replace a single word in the law which says police agencies “shall” issue concealed weapons permits to qualifying people. They want it to say “may” issue – giving police an option that they may or may not issue a permit.
“Even if a family says this person is a danger don't give them a gun, police in Washington have no choice. In "may issue" states, police have the discretion to say ‘No. This person is a danger they are not going to carry a loaded weapon in public,’" said Vice,
Ian Stawicki had a history of mental problems, but no felonies, so he was legally allowed to buy the weapons from a Tacoma gun shop in February.
The changes proposed by Brady wouldn’t have stopped the gun sale, but denying Stawicki a concealed carry permit would have made it illegal for him to walk around with a gun tucked under his clothes, just as he did Wednesday morning.
"This maniac had possession of guns and killed my brother. It's wrong,” said Linda Albanese.
But that one word won’t be changed in the law books without a ferocious fight. Gun rights advocates say it would give police broad powers to reject concealed weapons permits for citizens who haven’t broken the law.
“If you did that here in Seattle, you'd have a chief who gave out no gun permits. If it becomes discretionary, then people who deserve guns won't get them,” said Alan Gottlieb with the Second Amendment Foundation.
Gottlieb said the Washington state Supreme Court weighed in on the issue decades ago, ruling that police had to issue permits to qualified citizens.