In the wake of tragedies like the horrific mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, it’s common for elected leaders, celebrities, and other public figures to issue statements saying that their “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims. But “thoughts and prayers” are not enough. As Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement released by the White House a few minutes ago:
Jill and I offer our prayers and deepest condolences for all those affected by today’s horrific events. But our prayers are not enough to end these kinds of senseless mass shootings. The violence is not normal, and the targeting of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans is evil and abhorrent.
We agree with Vice President Biden. We should feel empathy for all affected by the tragedy. But we also bear responsibility to each other and to those who come after us to act to prevent more tragedies like this. Swift action is needed on the part of local, state, and federal leaders to save lives and protect communities.
Other countries have responded to mass shootings by passing stronger gun safety laws, and have seen a decrease in such attacks. We have not, partly because America is home to a powerful gun lobby that is opposed to any attempt to restrict the sale or use of weapons designed to kill large numbers of people.
A few states, notably Massachusetts, California, New York, and Connecticut, have answered the call for stronger gun safety laws, but most states have gone in the other direction since Newtown, creating a patchwork of laws with a lot of weak links. Washington and Oregon have significantly strengthened universal background checks with Initiative 594 and Senate Bill 941, respectively.
But there is much, much more we can do.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility is working to qualify Initiative 1491 to this November’s ballot. It would allow judges in Washington to issue extreme risk protection orders temporarily barring persons who are a danger to themselves or others from acquiring firearms. The Alliance must collect 300,000+ signatures by July 8th to qualify I-1491 to the ballot. We urge all those who want to create a safer Washington to join in the effort to pass much-needed laws like I-1491.