With students back in classrooms, there is no shortage of safety measures in place to protect them from the threat of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. From distanced desks to face masks, we have pulled out all the stops to ensure our youngest neighbors are safe from COVID-19, but the Legislature still has a lot of work to do to ensure they are safe from the other epidemic plaguing our community: gun violence.
We experienced the tragedy of gun violence firsthand five years ago. Just after midnight on July 30, 2016, the Mukilteo community was changed forever by a preventable tragedy. We lost three beautiful lives — Jordan Ebner, Jake Long and Anna Bui. Will Kramer was seriously injured, and dozens of young people suffered trauma that no one should ever experience.
Anna Bui has been described as joyful, intelligent, friendly, and motivated. She had a gift for music — she was a singer and played the guitar as well. She had finished her first year of college at UW-Bothell and was interested in a career in medicine to serve others as a nurse.
Jake Long was a gifted athlete, a baseball player who had just finished his first year of college and was getting ready for his sophomore year at Washington State University. Those close to him described him as selfless and caring.
Jordan Ebner was a student at Everett Community College and aspired to be a precision machinist. His mom Stacy said, “he loved everyone, and he wasn’t afraid to say it,” and he will always be remembered for his heart.
These beautiful young people deserved many more tomorrows. Other students made it to safety only because the shooter ran out of ammunition.
This was not an isolated incident. Mass shootings occur across the United States on a near-daily basis. In 2021 alone, there were at least 32 school shootings, and hundreds of mass shootings off school grounds. Oxford High School in Detroit, Michigan, was recently rocked by a school shooting that left four families without their loved ones and seven young people wounded.
Students from Oxford High School tragically joined at least 278,000 students who have experienced gun violence at school since 1999. In 2018, a Pew Research Center survey found that most teens in America fear mass shootings in their schools. Recent threats on TikTok have only bolstered this fear of violence.
Young people have rightfully directed their anger toward institutions which have failed to protect them, and are spending their formative years as advocates, aiming to prevent others from suffering their same traumas.
In Washington, we have worked to address the epidemic of gun violence by restricting guns at places of protest and the state Capitol — but we need to do more. It’s long past time that the Legislature act to prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines.
High-capacity magazines enable a shooter to fire more rounds at a target faster. Shootings in which high-capacity magazines are used result in a 62% higher death toll than those without. An analysis by Michael Siegal with Boston University showed that whether a state allows the sale of high-capacity magazines is the single best predictor of mass shooting rates in that state. They have been used in all 10 of the deadliest mass shootings in the last decade — including the shooting that killed Anna, Jake, and Jordan and wounded Will almost six years ago.
The precious seconds it takes for a shooter to reload can mean the difference between life and death. So can the passage of Senate Bill 5078 to prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines in the coming legislative session.
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