Own­ing a gun is a big respon­si­bil­i­ty, one which increas­es the risk of sui­cide or homi­cide for gun own­ers and their fam­i­lies. In Wash­ing­ton state, near­ly 6,000 peo­ple were killed with a gun in the last decade.

Thank­ful­ly, today Wash­ing­ton vot­ers are mak­ing a deci­sion that will save lives, by pass­ing Ini­tia­tive 594 by a mar­gin of almost 20%. Accord­ing to gun safe­ty orga­ni­za­tion Wash­ing­ton Cease­fire, “Those states that have the most rea­son­able gun laws have far few­er gun deaths than those states that have the least restrictions.”

I‑594 will require back­ground checks of gun buy­ers at pri­vate sales and gun shows. Our cur­rent law con­tains a loophole—it only requires buy­ers pur­chas­ing a gun from licensed deal­ers to under­go a back­ground check. Until the pas­sage of I‑594, it was legal for any­one to buy a gun out of a trunk in a park­ing lot or over the Inter­net. Crim­i­nals, domes­tic abusers and peo­ple with severe men­tal ill­ness could evade a back­ground check by avoid­ing licensed gun dealers.

This ini­tia­tive and oppos­ing ini­tia­tive, I‑591, are the first gun-relat­ed bal­lot mea­sures in the coun­try since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shoot­ing. This has made them the focus of nation­al media and big con­trib­u­tors, such as Bill and Melin­da Gates, for­mer New York City May­or Michael Bloomberg and the Nation­al Rifle Association.

The coun­try’s watch­ing, and I‑594’s strong vic­to­ry will like­ly ener­gize gun safe­ty efforts in oth­er states.

Back­ground checks have been shown to save lives, some­thing that impor­tant to peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton who are strug­gling right now to under­stand last week’s vio­lent deaths of Marysville-Pilchuck High School stu­dents. This vote is a good step towards a safer state.

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