April 20, 2019 Blog

Columbine: 20 Years Later

Twenty years ago, two teenagers walked into Columbine High School and began shooting. That day, 12 students and a teacher died and an era of mass shootings in America was born.

To commemorate that tragedy, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility teamed up with gun violence prevention organizations across the state for a two-part event.

First, we held a rally in Seattle City Plaza, spearheaded by Washington Ceasefire. We welcomed amazing speakers including Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, survivors, and gun violence prevention advocates.

Afterward, we headed inside for a special forum on Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs). ERPOs are an underutilized tool to prevent individuals at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms. Family members or law enforcement can petition for an ERPO in response to an individual’s dangerous mental health crisis or violent behavior.

We had expert speakers on hand from the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit, Multi-Communities, Seattle King County Public Health, and Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to walk through what ERPOs are and the process for obtaining them, and answer audience questions. The goal was for attendees to gain an understanding of ERPOs so that they could share that knowledge with their personal networks.

I think these events were an apt metaphor for gun violence in Washington State. We don’t just grieve the victims, we also act to prevent future victims.

This day was a true coalition effort and would not have been possible without the hard work of our amazing partners: Everytown Survivor Network, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, Seattle Brady Campaign, Seattle City Attorney’s Office, Students Demand Action and Washington Ceasefire. We are already planning another coalition event for the Fall. Stand by for more details on that soon!

Maureen McGregor is the Strategic Engagement Manager at the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.