Saving ourselves from Gun Violence: Do Not Stand Idly By



My anger boiled over on December 14, 2012 when a young man shot 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and later turned the gun on his mother and himself.  I grieved for the families and could only begin to imagine the empty places in their hearts that might never heal.

I felt this had to be a turning point for us as a nation.  I wondered aloud how we could live at peace within our communities when people with grudges can readily obtain weapons and wipe out a class of innocent children or their neighbors.

Unbelievably, three years after Sandy Hook, gun violence continues to rise. Last week’s shooting on the UCLA campus was the 186th shooting on a school campus since Sandy Hook. Nationwide we have witnessed over 1,000 mass shootings between 2013 and 2015.  1,000! These acts happen so frequently it is no longer is front-page news.

The rest of the world shakes their heads at us in disbelief.  Frankly, I am shocked too, and outraged Congress has done so little to curb handgun violence.  I do not believe the founders of this country would have stood for that kind of inaction for one moment.  As a result of Congress’ shoulder shrugs,  We The People and our local governments must stand up.  And we are.

Thanks to the people who organized and funded the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), voters across the State of Washington passed by initiative a strong criminal background check law.  There’s more:  Bravo to some brave legislators who passed HB 1840 to give judges authority to require gun forfeiture in instances of domestic violence.   We are now implementing that law with leadership from King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and Seattle/King County Public Health Director Patty Hayes.

Sally, the Mayor and Rabbi Weiner

Councilmember Bagshaw, Mayor Murry and Rabbi Daniel Weiner

This week I am proud to be working with Mayor Murray and my Council colleagues in announcing our next local step with national implications to reduce gun violence.  We are creating a resolution that will implement some of the policies recommended by an organization called Do Not Stand Idly By.

Great thanks to Rabbi Daniel Weiner who first brought the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign to my attention.  This campaigns calls on cities across the nation to utilize their purchasing power  to demand more of gun manufacturers.

The Do Not Stand Idly By campaign launched by faith leaders is based on two premises.  As quoted from their website:

      “1. We can’t end the plague of gun violence in America until the manufacturers of guns make safety and responsible sales among their highest priorities.

  1. The companies that step up to lead in these areas will thrive.  They’ll tap a growing demand for safety, and expand their market share among major public-sector gun buyers.” (http://donotstandidlyby.org/)

Our resolution first will establish policies to put pressure on gun manufacturers.  We will use the city’s procurement power to require that our local gun and ammunition dealers abide by all state/federal licensing laws, ensure that authorized background checks are fully performed, put strong inventory control measures in place and report any inventory theft.

Second, our resolution will update the city’s  purchasing process requiring that companies wishing to sell firearms or ammunition to the city provide a copy of any firearms compliance documents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Third, this resolution will restrict the sale of surplus Seattle Police Department  (SPD) weapons to law enforcement entities authorized to possess firearms.

Fourth, our resolution is designed to serve as a model for procurement strategies for other cities across our state and nation, promoting communities to take proactive steps toward safety.

Even if we can’t get help from Congress, we will take a stand against the national epidemic of gun violence right here.

Step by step we will act to protect what’s most precious within our communities. As a city, we will not stand idly by.

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