Monday, October 05, 2009

Youth airsoft gun violence in King County

I wholeheartedly agreed with Beth Colgan’s perspective in her guest commentary in The Seattle Times, “Community intervention effective at dealing with kids packing heat” [Opinion, Oct. 2].

She makes an excellent point in her critique of King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s call for a new state law to mandate jail time for juveniles who are in possession of guns. Colgan states these youth would be better served if judges would order them to participate in proven community-based programs designed to give them the therapeutic, and culturally specific services they need to destroy their misguided fixation on carrying around firearms.

Time and time again, research-based programs have shown that community-based intervention and prevention projects more effectively serve violent-prone youth than does sending them to state-run detention centers. Plus these programs are far less expensive to operate than youth jails.

Although Colgan is correct in pointing out that fewer than a fraction of 1 percent of Washington youth have been adjudicated for gun possession, Satterberg is right to ring the alarm bell regarding the devastation caused by those few youth who have wantonly maimed and killed people recently in King County.

As the chair of the Metropolitan King County Council budget committee, I believe we must focus our attention on finding a way to identify, improve and better utilize programs that can provide help to these youth in our community.

I do not think the facts currently warrant passing a state law incarcerating all youth found guilty of being in possession of a gun.

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