A large crowd of gun control supporters, mobilized by StandUP Washington, marched from Seattle’s Westlake Park to a rally at the Seattle Center this Sunday afternoon. The mood was somber, as victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting were remembered, but there was also a spirit of resolve.
The event had a dual purpose, to remember, but to also call for action. With Washington’s legislative session beginning today, it’s a perfect time to press legislators for a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons. The recent gun tragedy can’t be another gruesome event that creates words which only dissolve into inaction. We must act.
Washington Ceasefire board president and event organizer, Ralph Fascitelli, told the group that the politicians we send to Olympia need “political courage” to pass sensible regulations. He reported on a new Washington Ceasefire survey of registered state voters that showed a two to one margin in favor of a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons.
Rabbi Ted Falcon, of the Interfaith Amigos, had a deeper, more spiritual theme. He said that the crowd had assembled, “Because something’s broken, and it’s us. We talk about stopping violence rather than talking about healing what’s broken. What causes us to use these weapons is a lack of power, a lack of voice. Something is broken…and it is our system.”
Offering some hope for change out of Olympia this winter was state Senator Ed Murray. “We are going to see movement in Olympia…It’s going to take time and a lot of work.” Instead of being intimidated by the enormity of the challenge, Murray suggested that we consider this quote by French philosopher Albert Camus:
Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children.
This seems like the least a humane society should strive for.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn spoke in favor of a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, closing the gun show loophole, preventing the mentally ill from owning guns and, with fervor, allowing cities like Seattle to regulate guns within their borders.
Gun control supporter and parent, Elizabeth Canning of Redmond, said that she came to the rally with her friend because “I want our legislators to know that there is real support for gun control legislation in our state. The tide has turned and I wanted to be a part of the kickoff for what I hope is a renewed charge in Washington for responsible policies to reduce gun violence.”
Some attendees reported a group of guns-rights advocates in the front row, hassling those around them. That’s disrespectful behavior at a memorial event.
Here’s something to ponder: In Washington state, nearly 6,000 people have been killed by guns in the past decade. That’s more than ten times the number of firearm deaths in England in the same period, a country with almost eight times Washington’s population.
We’re obviously doing something wrong and it’s time to act. Let’s take a step towards sensible gun regulations.