Editor’s note: Today’s editorials originally appeared in The Seattle Times and The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
While details of Wednesday’s tragic shooting in Lake City are still unfolding, one thing is already clear.
Seattle and King County should take pride in the selflessness and courage shown all around.
Metro bus driver Eric Stark was shot through the front window of his bus. Before pressing the emergency alarm button to call for help, he drove himself and 12 passengers away from the man randomly shooting at vehicles.
Stark told KOMO-TV he thought he had been shot in the chest. But after assessing his injuries, “figured well, I can breathe, I can think, I can see, and I can talk. So for me that was enough to go, ‘OK, I’m getting out of here, I’m going to get these people out of here.’ “
Seattle Police, assisted by King County Sheriff’s deputies, immediately approached the suspect after he crashed a stolen Prius and crawled out. Aerial video footage showed the ad hoc team did not wait for an armored vehicle or a SWAT team. Protected by vests and ballistic shields, they walked right up to a person who had just been shooting people in the street and apprehended him before he could hurt anyone else.
This reflects well on police preparation for what’s sadly become part of American life, the threat of random gun violence. To minimize harm from inevitable shootings, Seattle’s department invested heavily over the last decade in training and equipment to prepare patrol officers to quickly respond to active shooting situations.
Ordinary citizens also showed remarkable bravery and selflessness amid the chaos and danger in Lake City.
Neighbor Jessica Boore told the Times she peeked outside and saw two good Samaritans trying to get people to safety while the suspect was firing at cars. Another neighbor, John Barrett, walked toward the commotion, saw a person lying in the street, told his partner to call 911 then returned to help the person — who turned out to be the shooter, who stood up and started firing at cars. Barrett said he jumped in the bushes, then he went to help drivers who had been shot.
Three people were shot, one fatally, and a fourth was killed in a collision with the stolen Prius.
Shootings are an epidemic in the United States. The number of Americans killed by firearms reached a high in 2017, with 39,773 gun deaths, the highest level since the Centers for Disease Control’s electronic database started in 1968. Nearly two-thirds were suicides, though the country also saw an average of at least one mass shooting per month last year, which is defined by the FBI as an incident in which at least four people are shot by a gunman.
Wednesday’s tragedy in Lake City was no less senseless and random, causing no less pain for those wounded and those whose loved ones were taken too soon.
There is nothing about this event to celebrate, only relief that it wasn’t worse.
But we can deeply admire the courage, humanity and professionalism shown by those at the scene.
Effort to impose state capital-gains tax is misguided
At this point, despite a projected record-tax collection of over $50 billion for the next two years, it seems highly likely the Legislature will increase state taxes in some form.
Democrats control the House and Senate, the governor is a Democrat, and the party leaders have not been shy about saying they believe more revenue is needed. Beyond that, these elected officials are confident their constituents back them — and they might be correct.
But when the Legislature approves new or higher taxes, it must do so within the state constitution.
The $52.6 billion proposed budget released Monday by House Democrats includes $1.4 billion in new or higher taxes. One of those new taxes is on capital gains, which — according to the United States Internal Revenue Service — is considered income. And income tax is generally accepted as illegal under the state constitution. Voters have rejected income tax proposals 10 times, including six aimed at changing the constitution.
Democrats are shying away from calling or even linking a capital-gains tax to an income tax. Instead, they point to the fact that few Washingtonians — just 13,400 residents — will have to pay this tax as it targets high-end earners, such as in the high-tech sector.
“Unfortunately, the post-Great Recession economy has not produced enough revenue to fund our current needs,” said Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, chairwoman of the House Finance Committee.
“Wealth is continuing to concentrate in the hands of fewer and fewer individuals,” she said later, according to The Seattle Times. “They pay less and less into the critical public investments that we need.”
Given that those hit with the capital gains tax are an infinitessimal percent of the state population, what does it matter that they are hit with a 9.9 percent income tax on the sale of stocks and bonds over $100,000 per individual and $200,000 per household?
Well, it matters on principle.
First, it would be allowing a tax — an income tax — that is not accepted under the state constitution. This should not be condoned.
Second, the capital-gains tax could morph into a full-blown income tax in a few years that many, if not most, Washingtonians would have to pay. If this were to succeed it would be circumventing the state constitution.
If Democrats truly want to pursue a capital gains tax, then the constitution must be changed.
But we highly doubt an 11th vote on a state income tax would be any different than the first 10.