June 1, 2017 In the News
Hundreds of Washington Voters Gathered to Celebrate Gun Responsibility Progress, Including Unprecedented Bipartisan Support from Lawmakers and a Successful 2017 Legislative Session
Alliance for Gun Responsibility Annual Luncheon Featured Lawmakers Who Championed Gun Responsibility in 2017 and Center for American Progress CEO Neera Tanden
Speakers Reflected on Unprecedented Legislative Victories and Opportunities to Reduce Gun Violence in Washington State
Seattle, WA – Over 850 Washington voters gathered to celebrate the progress in reducing gun violence over the past year, including unprecedented bipartisan support from lawmakers and the passage of House Bill 1501, Law Enforcement and Victim Safety, into law.
“In the course of a year since our last luncheon, we have made tremendous progress in taking on gun violence,” said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “This session saw the largest number of bipartisan co-sponsors for gun responsibility legislation than ever before and the Law Enforcement and Victim Safety bill successfully made it through the legislative process and was signed into law earlier this month.”
Hopkins and others explained why action at the local and state level is more important than ever.
“Our national political climate is not welcoming to progressive change. In fact, it is absolutely hostile. And the political climate in Olympia, while improving, remains a mixed bag. While we see our champions fight for life-saving policy, we still don’t have a gun responsibility majority in the legislature,” Hopkins continued. “We have been trying to pass some form of Child Access Prevention for nearly 20 years. This year, the bill got farther than it ever has before, but it still died in committee. We need a gun responsibility majority so that doesn’t happen again. There is no excuse to not pass such sensible legislation.”
“Washington state is an example for the country,” said Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress. “Your lessons are our lessons. Work locally, hold your local legislators accountable, tell your stories, demand action. You’ve made progress, you’ve changed laws. This means that we can have success around the country.”
Other speakers at the event explored the current conversation around gun responsibility in Washington and how the gun violence prevention movement can continue to help save lives.
“There are two story lines about gun violence,” said Margaret Heldring, President of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence. “One disturbing trend is the incidence of gun violence since Sandy Hook. This is the dark storyline. The second storyline is brighter and uplifting. It’s the story of citizen activism, bills moving farther in the Legislature than ever before, and grassroots efforts growing daily.”
“There wasn’t a week that went by this last year where some of you weren’t in Olympia in the gallery or meeting with my colleagues. We’ve had more victories in this process than we could have ever hoped for,” said Representative Jamie Pedersen.
“We used to hear only one gun violence prevention bill each year and you had to pick and choose. Now we hear several bills each year. We were able to move the Dangerous Access Prevention bill for the first time in nearly 20 years. Gun responsibility bills can’t get moved if we don’t have a bi-partisan group to champion these bills. It’s time to put the whole Legislature on the side of gun responsibility,” said Representative Laurie Jinkins.
The need for continued action was also illuminated through personal testimony from one of the gun violence prevention movement’s youngest advocates.
“When I was growing up, my parents would tell me stories and personal histories of war and predominantly gun violence in Somalia,” said Najib Yasin, a 14-year-old eighth grader at Denny International Middle School in Seattle. “But the U.S. isn’t like Somalia. We don’t have a war here. But it’s easy to get an AK47 like my grandfathers in Somalia, and you don’t even have to show that you know how to use it.”
About the Alliance for Gun Responsibility
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility works to end the gun violence crisis in our community and to promote a culture of gun ownership that balances rights with responsibilities. Through collaboration with experts, civic leaders, and citizens, we work to find evidenced-based solutions to the crisis of gun violence in our community. We create innovative policy, advocate for changes in laws, and promote community education to reduce gun violence. Learn more at www.gunresponsibility.org and follow us at @WAGunResponsib.