Brings back old memories

There was a shooting in Seattle yesterday, at 3rd & Pine, and I said to myself, “I know that place — that’s where I was shot at!” This was around 1978, and I was often catching a late night bus at 3rd & Pike. This one evening, there was an altercation on Pine; a sex worker (I was there so often I recognized many of the ladies working those corners) was screaming angrily at someone in a car, and I could hear it a block away. Then she pulled out a handgun and started firing away.

She didn’t hit the guy, she didn’t even hit the car. The bullets were coming my way — I’d see a flash and hear a little “tch” sound as they struck the sidewalk near me, followed by a faint “pop” from the gun. I scrambled to hide behind a lamp post, thinking this would be a really stupid way to die, as an unintentional target of an angry woman who couldn’t hit a car ten feet away from her. Honestly, though, it was some small caliber pistol, shots were all over the place — one did make a little “pok” sound when it punched through a store window — even if one hit me by chance, it was unlikely to be lethal. I don’t think her target was hit at all, and he just drove away.

So just like the shooting yesterday, in the same place at least. Except this time the shooter was a bit more heavily armed and went on a far more determined shooting spree: one dead, seven injured, including a 9 year old boy.

We can’t change human nature easily — there will always be angry incidents and violent responses, just as there were in 1978 and 2020. What we could control, if we had the will, was the availability of lethal technology. The shooting yesterday was a product of human nature amplified by deadly weapons that had no place on a civilized city street.


  1. Snidely W says

    It might be worth mentioning that every Big Game Animal species in North America have at one time or another been killed by a .22 caliber gun.

    At least this claim has been made within the hunting/gun community for many years/decades. I can’t personally attest to this but can think of no good argument to refute it. Chunks of metal flying around at speed should concern all organisms in the vicinity.

  2. nomdeplume says

    I don’t know how civilised Americans can stand to live in a country where potentially every human interaction can result in gunfire. And where ordinary people expect that to be the case and see nothing odd about it, like PZ in this case.

  3. microraptor says

    You can technically kill a bear or an elephant or whatever with a single bullet from a .22 caliber rifle. Doing so is either a fluke or means you have the shooting skills of a comic book character. There’s a reason that big game hunting is done with high caliber rifles rather than low caliber ones.

    With pistols especially there’s a serious correlation between the size of the bullet and the amount of damage it does, because pistols have short barrels and therefore can’t provide a lot of acceleration- once the bullet exits the barrel it stops accelerating.

    So yeah, a small caliber bullet that’s traveling faster can be more dangerous- this is why the AR-15 is more lethal in mass shootings than a 9mm handgun- but a small caliber handgun is generally going to cause less damage than a large caliber.

    Not that there’s any caliber that it’s safe to get shot by.