Reaction by Seattle Times readers to yesterday’s sentencing of Byron White, 19, for the slaying of David L. Peterson in February 2014 over a cellphone shows that even in liberal latte-land, people occasionally exhibit remarkable perspective when it comes to crime.
Many of the more than 160 comments already posted on the newspaper’s website suggest that the 28 ½-year sentence handed down to White yesterday is not enough. They want him locked up forever, to “rot” in prison.
Peterson was gunned down by White because he not only wouldn’t turn over his phone to the then-17-year-old thug, he even had the audacity to call police and tell the teen he was reporting the crime. According to the Seattle Times, White shot Peterson in the chest, then fled to a friend’s home where he told people what he had done, while apparently complaining that the phone he stole from the dead man wasn’t as nice as he wanted.
That slaying was no more pointless or brutal than the murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee in what appears to have been a gang-related dispute in Chicago. Services for the youngster were underway as this column was being written.
The Chicago Sun-Times called Lee “another victim of Chicago’s gun violence.” That’s not entirely accurate. Perhaps Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy put it much better, calling the child’s killing “probably the most abhorrent, cowardly, unfathomable crime that I’ve witnessed in 35 years of policing.”
These cases beg the question: What kind of person murders someone over a cellphone? What kind of person lures a 9-year-old to a gang execution in an alley? An opinion piece by Laura Washington in the Sun-Times asks some other provocative questions.
White was illegally carrying the gun he used, which apparently was not recovered, when he killed Peterson. It’s a safe bet that the killer of Tyshawn Lee wasn’t legally able to have the gun he used.
Pass all the gun laws you want, Second Amendment activists will argue. Make it difficult and discouraging for peaceable citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, they challenge. None of that will make any difference, nor have any deterrent effect, on people who kill for cellphones or murder children, activists contend.
If gun prohibitionists are honest, they’ll admit that the Second Amendment crowd is right. They begrudgingly acknowledge that so-called “universal background check” laws – typically pushed with talking points that make it seem there are no background checks right now – won’t prevent all of the crimes they’re trying to prevent.
A Rasmussen poll last week revealed that most voters doubt the sincerity of politicians who raise gun issues. Perhaps Rasmussen should do a poll on the perceived sincerity of gun control advocates who have been pushing the same agenda – turning the right to keep and bear arms into a government-regulated privilege – for several years.
Rasmussen noted that “Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe most politicians raise gun issues just to get elected rather than to address real problems.” Some Chicago politicians have made at least partial careers from pushing tougher gun laws and resisting real reforms, as finally forced on the city by the Supreme Court in McDonald v. City of Chicago, a case brought by the Second Amendment Foundation.
The city is, of course, resisting change. And they body count is continuing to rise.
Got an opinion about this column? Share your views in the “Comments” section below.