2012 Election

More on Shoot'n With the Sheriff

By Josh Feit July 19, 2012

KING 5 picked up on PubliCola’s Fizz post featuring King County Sheriff Steve Strachan’s upcoming fundraiser at Wade’s Gun Shop in Bellevue, which Strachan is billing as “Shootin’ With the Sheriff.” Noting the recent rash of gun violence in King County (most notably, perhaps, the mass murder at Cafe Racer in the U District, which just reopened after a gunman killed four people), KING questioned the timing of the sheriff’s gun-happy fundraiser.

They might also have questioned the location. Although Wade’s is probably the best-known gun shop in the area (and has hosted fundraisers for candidates in the past), its safety history is hardly impeccable.

According to reports from the Seattle Times:

In 1996, an experienced gun owner looking for places to take his own children to shoot filed a complaint with the city of Bellevue over what he claimed were lax safety policies at Wade's. The city investigated, but discovered that it did not have any jurisdiction over safety policies at shooting ranges; nor does the Department of Labor and Industries or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

In 1997, a woman fatally shot a male friend in the neck after the gun she was shooting---a Smith & Wesson .44---recoiled and she was unable to control it. The two were at the range on a church-group outing. Earlier that same year, another woman shot herself in the leg when the safety on the gun she was shooting released as she drew the gun from a holster.

Also in 1997, a man shot himself in the head at the range with a 9-mm Glock semiautomatic.  It was unclear at the time whether the shooting was accidental or a suicide.

In 2000, Wade's was the site of two apparent suicides in a single week---the first, a woman with a history of suicide threats, and the second, a man who took his rented gun into Wade's restroom and shot himself in the chest.

In 2003, a UW professor who had just been fired bought a Glock .357 semiautomatic handgun at Wade's that he later used to kill himself and his mentor at the school.

In 2004, burglars crawled into Wade's through an air vent and made off with 14 handguns and three assault rifles with a total value of more than $15,000.

And in 2009, a former Wade's employee with a history of theft was charged with stealing a dozen guns from the store.

I'm not compiling this list to suggest that Wade's is an especially dangerous gun shop, or that a guy who's running for the county's top cop shouldn't be allowed to play with guns. However, it seems to me that at a time when many county residents are especially sensitive to gun violence in their communities, a gun shop---particularly one with a history of deaths and injuries on the premises---might not be the most appropriate venue.

[Strachan will be on KOMO Radio, AM 1000, a little after 1 to discuss the fundraiser.]
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