Sunday, December 08, 2013

Do We Care about Gun Violence in this Country?

I ask because I honestly thought that after the horror of Newtown that things would change.  On December 16th, it will be the one-year anniversary of that horrible event.  Twenty small children and six staff members were killed .

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Today is December 8th which is the 33rd (!) anniversary of John Lennon's murder.  This is what his widow, Yoko Ono, tweeted. Those are his actual glasses.

When does this stop?  

Over at The Stranger Slog, they had a running thread nearly every single week of toddlers and kids who got a gun and accidentally shot themselves or other kids they were playing with nearby.  The Slog managed to find a story every - single - week.

I note that in Iceland they passed a very sad mark for their country last week.  It was the FIRST time in their country's history that police officers shot and killed a man.  (He was mentally ill and would not put down his weapon.)  The police extended their condolences to the family.  How does this compare to what we allow in our own country?

I know its the holidays.  We want to have fun and loving times with friends and families. 

But please consider these events.

Thursday, the 12th, there is an event at Town Hall ($5) focusing on keeping kids safe from guns
Panelists will provide tips on how to keep kids safe from guns and tools for starting meaningful conversations that may help reduce violence. This wide ranging conversation will be moderated by Dr. Leslie Walker, Division Chief, Adolescent Medicine, Seattle Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. A diverse panel of speakers includes the father of an elementary school student who was shot at school, a sitting judge, and medical and public health professionals from Seattle Children’s and University of Washington, including its Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center.

On Saturday, the 14th, there will be a nondenominational service at First Church to remember Newtown at 5:30 p.m.  First Church is at 180 Denny Way between 2nd and Warren Avenue.  

The state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America joined others to organize this event.

Photo: Join us: http://momsdemandaction.org/join-us/ #NoMoreSilenceHere's the Facebook page for Moms Demand to learn more about them or even join. 

Lastly, please consider working for or supporting Initiative 594, the gun safety initiative that would require a background check on almost all guns sales in the state, closing the gun show loophole.  Just today, according to the Seattle PI, the state's four Catholic bishops strongly endorsed the measure.  

“These modest conditions for legal purchase of firearms represent a prudent balance between concerns for personal liberty and public safety.  In addition to this initiative measure, we also urge support by public and elected officials for policy initiatives to improve access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence.”

The statement represents the views of Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich, and Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson.

I-594, if it submits enough signatures, goes first to the Legislature.  So does a rival initiative, sponsored by gun rights supporters, that would forbid background checks.

The Legislature can either adopt an initiative into law, send the initiative on to voters, or offer an amended alternative.  It seems almost certain that Washington will vote on two rival gun initiatives next November.

No more silence.


Eric B said...

If you want to be even more depressed, there's a GunFail series on DailyKos that includes adults as well. I found myself yelling at the radio this morning when the current bill renewing the ban on plastic guns came up. Apparently, the big sticking point is whether the required steel slug (that makes a plastic gun show up in a metal detector) has to be permanent or whether it can be removable. Because all o four freedoms depend on being able to disable any device that would allow authorities to detect guns.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I heard that, too, Eric. It's pretty disgusting because there is no good reason to be able to take a single metal part off.

Lori said...

Thanks for the post, Melissa.

Saturday is the 1-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, and I think the service at First Church is going to be inspiring, healing, and motivating.

There won't be any talk of the initiative or politics at the event. Signatures for I-594 are still be collecting through December though. If you haven't signed but want to, you can order a petition on-line: https://secure.wagunresponsibility.org/page/signup/petition-signup?source=site-home

I know that a lot of people feel frustrated that no real progress appears to have been made in the last year. But I know that the playing field has changed. New organizations have sprung up that are in this for the long haul and understand that it takes time to change the culture, as well as to provide an effective counter to the NRA.

I'm encouraged by what's going on locally, from our Moms Demand chapter to the Washington State PTA including support for criminal background checks on its legislative agenda to new efforts from King County Public Health to keep kids safe from guns (http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/injury/lokitup.aspx) to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), who is spear-heading the I-594 campaign but also building a broad-based coalition that will work to reduce gun violence in all its manifestations: homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. We've never been this organized in WA state before.

It won't be easy, and WAGR needs not only our signatures now but our financial support in 2014, particularly if Olympia refuses to act and I-594 ends up on the ballot in November as an initiative to the people. If you care about this issue, I hope you'll call and email all of your representatives, at the state and federal level, not just once, but repeatedly so we can be heard because that's what the people who don't want stronger gun laws do, and they out-call us by large margins.

I'll leave you with this for further inspiration. My friend Cheryl Stumbo, a survivor of the Jewish Federation shooting, gave an amazing TED talk this summer here in Seattle imploring all of us to *talk* about gun violence. It's a deeply moving and personal story that ends on a positive note. And she inspires me every day to keep doing the hard work of fighting for a safer society.