The gun safety measures in Initiative 1639 will help keep our schools and our communities safer.
I am an attorney and former deputy prosecuting attorney. I am also a retired Army colonel and served in the Army Reserve for more than 30 years. I believe in the Second Amendment because I grew up in a gun-owning household where we used rifles and shotguns for hunting and target shooting. I was also an NRA member.
However, the mass shootings in Mukilteo, Las Vegas and Parkland have moved me to act. I can no longer remain on the sidelines while our elected officials do little more than offer thoughts and prayers while innocent Americans are gunned down.
During my civilian and military careers, I was dedicated to keeping our country and our communities safe, both at home and abroad. That is why I support Initiative 1639, which will implement common-sense measures that will help protect our schools and our communities from gun violence.
When serving as an officer in the Army Reserve, I commanded four units, including two basic training companies. New soldiers are required to undergo substantial training with firearms with a special emphasis on safety. Soldiers who leave their firearm unsecured or unattended are subject to disciplinary action. If their weapons discharge or are used in a crime, they could face a court martial.
When I returned to civilian life after reserve training, it was clear to me that too few civilians had the skills and tools I had learned in the military to ensure responsible gun ownership. Currently, civilians can purchase military-style weapons like an AR-15 with no safety training, only a cursory background check, and no waiting period. And if an unsafely stored weapon is accessed and used in a mass shooting, police and prosecutors have no way to hold gun owners accountable.
I-1639 strengthens the rules for purchasing semi-automatic assault rifles and incentivizes safe storage by providing that gun owners can be charged with the crime of “community endangerment” if a legally prohibited person gets their unsecured firearm and uses it to kill or injure someone.
The gun lobby has spent a considerable amount of time and money trying to mislead the public. They claim that I-1639 takes away the Second Amendment rights of people between 18 and 21. They don’t mention that under existing law you have to be 21 to purchase a handgun in our country. In addition, individuals under age 21 still will be allowed to purchase other types of firearms like bolt and lever-action rifles.
The gun lobby also argues that because we allow 18-year-olds to enlist in the military, they should be allowed to own a semi-automatic assault rifle. As anyone who has served in the military knows, civilian and military environments are dramatically different. Noncommissioned officers closely supervise recruits during training. At the end of the training day, their weapons are locked in an arms room. Close supervision and strict discipline ensure that rules of engagement are followed when soldiers are deployed overseas. Civilians are not subject to similar constraints.
Finally, the gun lobby argues that I-1639 will make guns inaccessible for self-defense. But secure and accessible are not mutually exclusive. Even the NRA recommends storing guns so that they cannot be accessed by unauthorized people.
I-1639 allows gun owners to choose the storage options that work best for them. For some gun owners, that might mean a trigger lock, which can be unlocked in seconds, for others it could be a safe or lock box. I-1639 leaves the specifics up to gun owners.
All of these are reasonable and common-sense measures that will help keep our schools and our communities safer.
As an Army officer, I witnessed firsthand the devastating fire power of assault rifles, and I learned and taught the value of training and safe weapon storage. As a prosecutor, I witnessed the toll that gun violence takes on our communities. As a concerned Washingtonian, I know we deserve better.
Join me in voting yes on Initiative 1639.