I have had tears in my eyes all day thinking about the little hands and faces of those children slain in Connecticut and the others who witnessed it. Every one of us has a child, a grandchild or KNOWS a child this age. Can you even imagine getting that call from the school? It is truly a nightmare to contemplate.
All of the homicidal shootings — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Cafe Racer and more — make my blood boil. After every one of these all-too-frequent events, and after every killing in our own city, I want to make changes to our gun safety laws. Every time I run into nay-sayers who tell me that “gun control is not popular.” Absurd!
Obviously we can’t control every one who has access to legally registered guns, but recent research has confirmed that states with tighter gun safety laws have fewer gun-related deaths. I believe a majority of us in our city, county, and state want stricter gun safety laws that will make us safer. Isn’t the life of one innocent kindergartener worth bringing the question back to our state legislators?
Earlier this year I wrote an article entitled Are We Serious about Public Safety? Here are 16 Things We Can Actually Do. I wrote this with my former-prosecuting attorney and human services’ hats on. Here’s the full article — http://bagshaw.seattle.gov/2012/06/01/are-we-serious-about-public-safety-here-are-sixteen-things-we-can-actually-do/
Here’s the short list of 16 actions incase you don’t want to read the whole thing:
1. Short term, we put more police officers on patrol.
2. We must be willing to identify the shooters.
3. If our police department needs emergency help, we should find the temporary resources.
4. To keep the streets safe, additional investigators must be funded and trained so cases can be investigated and referred for prosecution.
5. We must ask our legislators for help: Amend the laws to require a background check for EVERY firearm sold in this state.
6. We need criminal background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows.
7. Require permits to carry a gun.
8. Provide local authority to cities and towns to ban guns from parks, community centers, and other public locations.
9. Grant ATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) the authority to require dealer inventory checks to detect lost and stolen guns.
10. Provide authority to state and local authorities to fully investigate gun dealers and traffickers.
11. Require new handguns to be micro-stamped.
12. Restrict large capacity ammunition magazines.
13. Increase penalties for people who sell guns to criminals, violent offenders, and young adults.
14. Keep loaded guns away from children.
15. Anti-bullying programs for girls and boys beginning early and continuing through the teen years should be incorporated in every school.
16. Focus on the root causes of poverty and hopelessness and fund the needed programs.
I am proud of the City of Seattle because we HAVE added additional police patrols to our streets and we ARE funding programs to help those with mental health and addiction issues. That’s just a start.
We need to come together to create a city- and state-wide response. We will focus not just on public safety but on public health as well.
We have a good first step upon which we can build this year. Our Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Satterberg, has teamed with Washington Cease Fire as well as local gun rights advocates to promote important legislation addressing crimes committed by juveniles with guns. I support their efforts and if you want to help, you too can join me to tell our legislators that we want to take action this year to address gun safety.
I shudder to think of another homicidal person with a semi-automatic going after innocents. I refuse to let this Connecticut incident pass as so many others have with tears then back to the status quo. Our next step must be to make smart changes to our state’s gun-safety laws. No, this effort alone wouldn’t have stopped Adam Lanza, but we must start somewhere. Our kids are worth it. So are the rest of us.