This Election Day, parents at Ingraham High School in North Seattle received news you never want to get; there was an active shooter at their child’s school. We now know that one teen killed another with a gun in what is being described as a “targeted attack.”
As Seattle Public School parents, we acutely felt this pain. Jamie’s husband, Eric, is a teacher at Roosevelt High and his sons attend Garfield High and Meany Middle School. Liz’s son George is a first grader at John Hay Elementary. Liz’s life changed forever 11 years ago when a gunman opened fire at an event that seriously injured her former boss, U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. Her friend and colleague Gabe Zimmerman died that day. Gabe is the first congressional staffer to be killed in the line of duty.
Like many Washingtonians, when we hear about gun violence in our community, we want to take action to prevent similar tragedies. Our kids deserve to feel safe at school. But we live in a country that has more guns than people, and so it is easy to feel hopeless in the fight for common-sense action on gun safety.
The crisis of gun violence continues unabated here in King County. In the first six months of this year, almost 50% more people have been killed by guns in King County and the number of people wounded is up 65%. In 2020, homicides were up 47% in our state, setting a record for Washington, and FBI data show guns were responsible for more than two out of every three deaths nationally last year.
Washingtonians have once again elected pro-gun-safety majorities to the state Legislature. We intend to partner with our colleagues and use our power to prevent tragedies and save lives.
During the 2022 legislative session, we delivered on policies to ban untraceable, homemade “ghost guns” and ban the sale of high-capacity magazines. We also restricted open carry at places of civic engagement, including public demonstrations, local government meetings, election facilities and the state Capitol. We invested more than $8 million in community violence intervention programs through the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention. We can and must do more.
In this upcoming session, we will fight to ban the sale of assault weapons. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, these military-style weapons accounted for a quarter of deaths and 76% of nonfatal injuries in all mass shootings between 2009-2018. We can also make sure negligent gun dealers and manufacturers can be held civilly liable for the harms their products cause, just as we have done for decades with the automobile, pharmaceutical and other industries. This type of accountability has led to the invention of seat belts and air bags in cars to child-resistant caps on medications.
We should also ensure that people who purchase firearms get training to show they know how to safely use a gun, which is already a practice in nine states, and institute a 10-day waiting period to make it harder for people experiencing suicidal crises to have easy access to guns. In addition, we can require a permit to purchase a firearm — these laws can require in-person applications and fingerprinting, which provide an additional safeguard against fraud or inaccuracies that allow dangerous individuals to obtain guns. States with permitting laws have seen gun homicides and suicides decrease by as much as 30%.
These policies make common sense and also enjoy strong backing from the public. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support in-person gun permitting laws, as well as other common-sense gun safety measures. Just days ago, our neighbors in Oregon voted to enact a strict statewide gun-permitting law.
People all across our state are counting on lawmakers to pay attention and do everything in their power to prevent the next tragedy. We believe that our rights should not come at the risk of our safety. These measures will reduce gun violence and save lives.
Seattle high school students staged a walkout and rally on Monday to demand action. We won’t let them down.