In Washington state, you are more likely to be killed by a gun than by a car. That likelihood increases if you are under the age of 30, and nearly doubles if you are a woman. Along with these statistics is the fact that Washington State’s rate of school shootings is 2.2 times higher than the national average. As a community, we have the power to help fix these problems. Gun violence is a serious issue in Washington state that, if unchecked, has the potential to affect an even greater portion of the population. This is why Initiative 594 is so important.
Initiative 594 would require background checks in order to purchase a gun. Right now, people with criminal records can buy a gun at a gun show or online, no questions asked. If Initiative 594 were enacted, those who wanted to purchase a gun and did not have criminal records would be able to do so. This means that law abiding citizens such as hunters and 2nd Amendment fanatics would be able to purchase guns; only those with criminal records would be prevented from doing so.
Alongside the initiative and in response to Washington’s high rate of school shootings, Seattle Academy’s Community Service Organization (CSO) recently hosted a meeting that focused on gun responsibility. At the meeting, Courtney Weaver, a gun violence victim and a member of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, spoke up about her story:
“Almost five years ago, I was shot in the face and in the arm by my abusive boyfriend when I tried to leave him. I had been with him for about six months. In the days before he shot me, I noticed a change in behavior. He became more controlling and jealous, and started telling me that he wouldn’t know what to do if I left. On the night that he shot me, I told him I needed a break and needed to go spend time with a friend. I was in the bathroom when he came in. After seeing that he had pulled out a gun, I tried to calm him down and ask for the gun. He loaded it and started to leave. I thought he was going to go on a shooting spree, so I put myself in front of the door. Next thing I knew he was shooting me.”
As a result of the shooting, Courtney has had over 50 hours of surgery to reconstruct the bones in her face. Right now, if her ex were out of jail, he would be able to buy another gun. Courtney works extremely hard for the 594 campaign, and she would love your support. On why to vote yes, Courtney explained, “If it just saved one life, and the numbers show that it would save thousands more, your time would be worth it.”
Your commitment to Yes on Initiative 594 will save lives. You can talk to me or Rick Dupree about volunteering. There are plenty of different ways you can help the campaign, although phone banking and canvassing are most in demand. Signing up for a shift is only a three hour time commitment. Note that most time slots are not during school time, and that this should not be seen as a replacement for community service oriented inside the school. Over the weekend, I volunteered at the Capitol Hill phone bank for Yes on I-594, where I felt productive, efficient, and, most importantly, like I was doing the best thing I could with my time. The campaign has several phone banks in neighborhoods around Seattle, so you probably live close to one.
There is only a little over a week before ballots are due, so please volunteer as soon as you can. And also, students and faculty who are over 18, make sure to vote Yes on I-594!