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Updated: 3:50 p.m.
Marijuana and Obama
President Barack Obama dealt today with one law-enforcement matter that was very much in the White House's realm of responsibility: He said the federal government won't go after recreational pot users.
The president, as Associated Press reported, makes his remarks in an interview with Barbara Walters recorded for broadcast tonight.
Governor-elect Jay Inslee said in an email statement, "The President’s statement is welcome news to a state where voters have clearly expressed the same sentiment."
In the bigger news gripping the nation, Obama spoke movingly about Connecticut's tragic school shooting today, saying he was reacting as a parent, not the president. His press secretary said this was not the day to deal with gun control; the president did mention the need for "meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of politics."
Given that the president has no role in changing the Constitution, his voice — whether or not it is eventually heard — may not be the most important, although he would have a decision to make if Congress were to decide to pass something like a ban on the most rapid-fire forms of guns or ammunition.
Though we don't know the details in Connecticut yet, there is, in each of these tragedies, a public back-and-forth about gun control and mental health. Japan, which has approached the issue with ultra strict gun control laws, sees almost no gun murders. Switzerland and Israel, however, manage the same feat with significant gun ownership, though apparently at lower ownership rates than here.
Regardless of Obama's inability to amend the Constitution, Democratic silence has been remarkable. A guest opinion article on Crosscut that argued in September for Democrats to speak up is here.
As it is, D.C. has largely left it to state and local law enforcement to deal with the guns in the hands of people whose intent is not defense but the slaughter of the defenseless. How are people reacting locally?
- Mayor Mike McGinn made a sober, forceful statement calling on the state Legislature to take action of its own and allow the city to enact stronger measures, such as banning guns from community centers. He specifically mentioned a state ban on asault weapons and closing of a gun-show loophole on criminal background checks. He noted the Legislature has cut funding for the mental health and suggested, instead, increases in services.
- The Herald in Everett was the first paper we noticed locally to talk with school officials about their fears and preparation.
- Seattle Police said they were stepping up patrols around schools.
- Seattle Schools Superintendent José Banda sent a letter to parents.
- In Oregon, where a mall shooting just occurred, a state senator has already said she will introduce a bill to limit gun magazine rounds.
One more thought before we leave law enforcement alone: At The Stranger, Cienna Madrid did a cool thing. She asked leaders of the NRA's state chapter today for their ideas on school safety and guns and presented it simply as a question and an answer piece. It's informative and, if people want to talk seriously, worth reading.
Looking ahead to 2013
On the theory that total immersion in a tragedy isn't the answer, we made some of our usual rounds and stumbled across one of the first stories to take a New Year's Resolution angle. On Gig Harbor Patch, there's a story about a couple who together have lost more than 200 pounds.
They both happen to be physicians. There's a lovely photo of the couple, Drs. Francis and Margaret Mercado, holding their two children.
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