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Back Page: History Repeats

Seattle Police Chief cited "accessibility of guns" as the reason for record violence in 1968

By Rob Smith August 25, 2023

Seattle magazine August 1968

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2023 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Much as it is now, gun control and street violence were controversial topics back in 1968.

Seattle magazine tackled the subject head on with a series of articles exploring violence across the city. One article notes that Seattle’s reputation as an “outpost of placidity in a country of growing turmoil” was a “delusion.” “Every category of violent crime is mounting appreciably,” the article states, adding that 48 murders occurred in 1968, at the time an all-time record.

And, in an eerie resemblance to the recent spate of mass shootings, city Police Chief Frank Ramon blamed the easy accessibility of guns as the reason. “The gun is there, so it is used,” Ramon said. “What might have been just a fight becomes a major tragedy.”

That parallel from past to present is ominous. Let’s learn from it.

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