Parents and children dug through freshly fallen leaves and cold, wet dirt near Seattle’s Green Lake on Sunday morning to plant 300 daffodil bulbs.
Each bulb, planted on Washington CeaseFire’s 22nd Annual Day of Remembrance, represents two of the 600 people, on average, killed by guns every year in Washington state, said Ralph Fascitelli, board president of the pro-gun-control advocacy group. Since the organization first started the event, its volunteers have planted at least 4,000 bulbs, many of them on land where Seattle Parks and Recreation has allowed the plantings.
This year’s Day of Remembrance focused on the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Conn., last December.
Kate Sipe, a Green Lake Elementary School teacher who spoke about never having to practice mass-shooting drills as a student, was followed by soft-spoken Kimball Elementary third-grader Lucia DeRosier, who said she’s been practicing those kinds of drills since she was in kindergarten.
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“We turn off all the lights, and then we crowd into a corner,” said DeRosier, 9, who brought with her an envelope of a year in savings — $28.55 — to donate to Washington CeaseFire.
Also Sunday, national statistics showing that about 7,730 children and teenagers suffered gunshot wounds in 2009 — compared with 4,270 in 1997 — were released at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference in Orlando, Fla. Of those, about 500 died from their injuries.
Getting younger people to support gun-control efforts has proved to be a challenge, said Fascitelli.
“They support gay marriage because they have friends who are gay. They support marijuana legalization because they smoke pot,” Fascitelli said of voters age 30 and younger.
“Unless it immediately affects them, it’s hard to get their support. We need to get them thinking, ‘This is the world I’m going to be raising children in one day.’ ”
He would like to see this happen soon because state Initiative 594, which would make universal background checks for every gun owner mandatory, still needs more signatures by a Jan. 3 deadline before it can head either to the Legislature or onto the November 2014 ballot.
If I-594 backers collect enough signatures, they may face opposition from anti-gun-control activists who are collecting signatures for their own initiative, which would prevent the state from adopting a stricter background-check law than the national standard.
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.