Summer days in Seattle are replete with sunshine, dazzling mountains, sunsets to savor, and, sadly, gun violence. This past week, a Seattle Times headline read “Shootings across Seattle leave 4 dead, 7 injured since Sunday” [July 26, Northwest].
This story plays out daily across the nation. For years, groups with a mission to prevent such shootings in all our neighborhoods sent thoughts and prayers. Then we issued calls to action and built up an active community of citizen advocates to urge our state legislators to pass new, lifesaving laws. We looked to the U.S. Congress only to see it stuck in partisanship and with the filibuster albatross rendering it inactive and ineffectual.
You can believe we have cried. And that we have not been spared loss as a consequence of guns in the wrong hands. Neighbors, a niece, memories of daughters lost to suicide.
It is time for us all to be bolder.
We reach out to gun owners to talk together, to look for common ground that would unite our energies to turn around this epidemic of gun violence and respect the right conferred by the Second Amendment and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. We see a glimpse of such ground around the responsibility to safely store firearms and ammunition.
We endorse the belief that with rights come responsibilities. You drive a car, you have a license and insurance, and you obey traffic laws. You wear a seat belt, and your child or infant is securely strapped in.
Seattle mayoral and City Council candidates call for sensible gun reform. We are encouraged that addressing gun violence is featured on campaign agendas. We are thrilled that new funds are heading to community-based programs, making possible new violence interrupter strategies. We recently applauded the news that background checks, passed in Washington state in 2014, have saved hundreds of lives. We are optimistic that increasing funds for research into gun violence will provide evidence to guide us.
However, gun sales and shootings increase. Our communities, city, state and nation are full of fear. Is my school, place of worship. corner grocery store or concert safe? John Woodrow Cox has written “Children Under Fire: An American Crisis” to help us understand the ripple effect of shootings on Americans of all ages. We are only beginning to look at the psychology of gun violence.
What would be bolder? Admittedly improbable, I dream of the NFL refusing to play football this fall until assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are banned across the nation.
More probable are:
● Gov. Jay Inslee convenes a summit of state leaders and citizens to draft a road map to safety.
● Every gun-owning household takes responsibility to safely lock up its guns and ammunition.
● Toy makers stop production of toy guns, better known as replicas, that are so similar to real guns that police report they cannot always tell the difference.
● Seattle-based Amazon takes the lead to drop its sale of toy guns, thought by many to be tools that train future violence.
● All faith communities share intentionally the rights-and-responsibilities message.
● Our medical and nursing communities raise their voices and rise up to join our public-health leaders.
● Our local, affluent companies pledge significant funds annually to promote gun safety and research.
● Celebrities, athletes and influencers speak out on their platforms on the need for common-sense gun reform.
● It becomes highly unfashionable to parade around with an AR-15 strapped across one’s chest. We make it cool to commit to safe gun ownership and responsible use.
On behalf of grandmothers everywhere, let’s go! People are dying and suffering. Enough is enough.