Alliance For Gun Responsibility Announces Ballot Initiative For 2018
Reduce Assault Weapon Violence Initiative Has a Number of Provisions, Including Raising the Age of Purchase, Enhanced Background Checks, Waiting Periods to Purchase and Responsible Storage Requirements
More than 200,000 Students Have Experienced Gun Violence at School Since Columbine, Nearly Two Decades Ago Today
Seattle, WA – Today, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility announced a ballot initiative for 2018, the Reduce Assault Weapon Violence: Safe Schools, Safe Communities Initiative. The policy addresses a number of issues related to assault weapons and is designed to help increase school and public safety in communities across Washington.
“Gun violence is an avoidable epidemic and is far too common in our country and state. Too many people have lost their lives to violence; too many families, children, and communities are rattled to the core. The people of Washington—from the kids marching for their lives, to their parents and grandparents who are calling their elected officials– demand action NOW,” said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “We’re answering their call with a comprehensive ballot initiative to help ensure safer schools and neighborhoods and through extensive work with voters ahead of November’s election. We must elect more gun responsibility champions and do whatever we can to strengthen our gun violence prevention laws.”
The proposed initiative will address many of the root causes of recent tragedies by raising the age to purchase semiautomatic rifles to 21; creating an enhanced background check system similar to what is required for handguns; requiring completion of a firearm safety training course; and creating standards for secure storage to prevent guns from falling into dangerous hands.
Statistics show that shootings involving assault weapons result in 135 percent more people shot and 57 percent more killed. These weapons have been used in high-profile shooting incidents, including the 2018 Parkland shooting, 2017 Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs shootings, 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting. And here at home, on July 30, 2016, a deeply troubled 19-year-old shooter opened fire at a party in Mukilteo using an assault weapon with a 30-round magazine, killing three young people and seriously wounding another teen. The weapon and the magazine were purchased at a local shop after a background check that took only minutes.
“My son Will attended the house party that tragically turned into a mass shooting. I’m so thankful every day that he managed to get out alive. Three other students were not so lucky,” said Paul Kramer, Mukilteo resident and citizen sponsor of Reduce Assault Weapon Violence Initiative. “We need comprehensive reform when it comes to assault weapons. Teens should not be able to possess these dangerous weapons. We’ve seen what can happen when they do. We can’t let that happen again.”
“Semiautomatic firearms are designed to kill people and they have been used to do exactly that. Shootings involving these weapons have resulted in hundreds of lives lost, hundreds of devastating injuries, and lasting psychological impacts on the survivors of these tragic events, their families, and our communities. The impacts of mass shootings fall particularly heavily on our children and young people, which is why we must take action to make our communities safe places for our children to learn and grow,” said Hopkins.
A new Washington Post analysis shows that 208,000 children at 212 schools have been exposed to gun violence since the Columbine school shooting 19 years ago today. In the first four months of 2018, there have been 13 shootings — the highest number at this point during any year since 1999. In cases where the source of the gun could be determined, more than 85 percent of shooters—a number in line with other analyses— brought them from their own homes or the home of a close relative. Seven in 10 of the shooters were under the age of 18, which means that the only way they had access to firearms was because of an unsecured gun in the home.
“I’m tired of walking into school every day worrying that there will be a shooting and my friends and peers will get killed. This ballot initiative will help make sure young people can’t have access to these weapons and make sure that schools in Washington are a safe place,” said Amman Mahimud, a junior at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien.
The Alliance has filed Reduce Assault Weapon Violence as an initiative to the people. It will require signature gathering and a robust campaign in the months to come and will appear on the November 2018 ballot. The Alliance has run two successful ballot initiatives in the past, which established Universal Background Checks in 2014 and Extreme Risk Protection Orders in 2016. Both initiatives passed with an overwhelming majority by Washington voters, 59 percent and 69 percent, respectively.
- Raise the minimum purchase age to 21 for all semi-automatic weapons.
- In Washington, it is currently easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to purchase a handgun because assault weapons are treated the same as hunting rifles. This must change.
- Create an Enhanced Background Check at the time of purchase including:
- A local law enforcement check identical to the one we currently require for handguns.
- Requiring the purchaser show that they have completed a safety training course within the last five years that includes basic safety and safe storage rules, safe handling, and an overview of state and federal firearms laws.
- Dangerous Access Prevention.
- Holds gun owners responsible if a child or other prohibited person accesses and uses an unsafely stored firearm to harm themselves or another person.
- Ensure continued eligibility to possess or purchase an assault weapon.
- Requires the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) and the appropriate law enforcement agencies to work together to develop a process to ensure that purchasers continue to be eligible to possess a firearm.
- Requireinformed consent at the point of purchase about the inherent risks associated with the presence of a firearm in the home.
- Requires the notification at the point of sale that owning a firearm increases one’s risk for injury, death by suicide, domestic violence and homicide.
- Establish a waiting period up to 10 days for the purchase of an assault weapon.
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.