The Alliance for Gun Responsibility in Olympia last year. The Alliance is now calling for support of I-1639. Photo courtesy of The Alliance for Gun Responsibility
This afternoon in downtown Seattle, three people gave $100,000 each to end gun violence. Hundreds more also donated in support of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, for an eventual total of nearly $3 million. It's going toward the organization's latest work: Initiative 1639.
"There is a perceivable shift, a tangible difference in how we discuss gun violence in America," said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance. She pointed to the work of students involved with the March 24 national rally March for Our Lives.
Many of those students were in the audience and on stage. A handful opened the event by reciting the names of those killed in yet the latest school shooting, this one on Friday at Santa Fe High School in Texas.
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"Our schools are supposed to be our safest spaces ... They shouldn't be the site of mass executions," said Niko Battle, a student at Kamiak High School and the opening keynote speaker.
As a self-described "6-foot-tall black 17-year-old," Battle shared how the armed police officer at his school — meant as a deterrent against gun violence — doesn't exactly make him feel safer. Nor do the omnipresent reminders that he, his fellow students and his teachers are all potential victims of gun violence.
One of those teachers, he says, keeps a filing cabinet near his classroom door "just in case she needs to use it to block a potential shooter."
We are constantly preparing for the worst-case scenario, Battle said. "We feel we've been let down by the leaders our parents elected to protect us," he added.
We don't have to live in fear every morning when we send our kids off to school.
What those parents and their students can do was the theme of the afternoon, with Hopkins of the Alliance calling for voter support of I-1639, which, she said, "is the most comprehensive gun safety initiative in Washington state to date."
It would raise the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to 21, create an enhanced background check system, require completion of a firearm safety training course and create standards for the secure storage of guns.
"In shootings with assault weapons, 135 percent more people are shot and 57 percent more are killed," Hopkins explained.
"We don't have to live in fear every morning when we send our kids off to school," Hopkins said. "I'm confident we can do this together because we have to."