Marysville School Shooting Highlights Importance of Universal Background Checks Ballot Initiative in Washington State

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Today’s tragic shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School elicits the sadness and outrage that every story of gun violence at our schools does. And it’s magnified by the horrific fact that school shootings have become so common in America, with 87 since Newtown alone.

While it is not yet known how the Marysville shooter obtained the handgun used to attack his fellow students, the incident raises the important question of how access to firearms is regulated in the United States. After Newtown, Congress failed to pass a universal background checks bill, and the gun violence prevention movement shifted its focus to enacting smart gun laws at the state level.

In Washington State, where Marysville-Pilchuck High School is located, two competing initiatives are on the ballot this November that deal with background checks. One initiative, I-594, requires private sellers to conduct background checks on private purchasers of firearms. The Law Center is proud to have offered guidance to the group that drafted the bill, the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, by providing them with our model law and sharing research and legal analysis.

If passed, Washington’s new law (I-594) will:

  • Require unlicensed sellers to conduct a sale through a licensed firearms dealer who will perform a background check on the buyer
  • Ensure that a licensed dealer keeps a record of the private transaction

Continue reading

Letter to President Obama in the Wake of Newtown Massacre

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence applauds President Obama’s strong words in yesterday morning’s press conference announcing that a gun violence task force headed by Vice President Biden will lead to “concrete proposals no later than January.”

On Tuesday, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and 25 other state and national gun violence prevention organizations wrote to President Obama to thank him for speaking out in the wake of last week’s devastating shooting in Newtown, and to urge him to provide the leadership needed for the passage of sensible laws to prevent future tragedies.

Appointing a task force is a critical first step to curbing the flow of guns in to the hands of dangerous people. There are many steps the President can take today – including supporting many bills that are being introduced. Our coalition of gun violence prevention organizations offers support to the administration and Congress.

“We have been greatly encouraged by President Obama’s words since the horrific tragedy in Newtown,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center, which was formed in the wake of an assault weapon massacre at a law firm in San Francisco in 1993. “We appreciate the President’s past expression of support for laws banning assault weapons and requiring background checks on all gun buyers, and are hopeful that his commitment to use the power of this office to reduce gun violence will provide the catalyst needed for the adoption of those laws.”

Read and share our letter to President Obama below.

Email President Obama right now and thank him for his action: http://1.usa.gov/12AjM5o

He needs to know that we support him today.

Vigils for the Massacre in Newtown Erupt Across the Country


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Following the killing of 26 innocent children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, vigils for the fallen erupted across the country. Over 200 victims of gun violence and activists from the Law Center and other organizations across the country gathered at the White House on Friday to call on President Obama to take action to curb the epidemic of gun violence in our country.

Here is some coverage of the events:

More Determined Than Ever

Today in Washington D.C., we joined survivors of gun violence at a vigil at the White House. Together with our colleagues and many concerned citizens from across the country, we insisted that today IS the day that we as Americans stand up and say we’ve had enough.

Earlier today we asked you to stand with us by calling the White House to demand action from President Obama and our elected leaders. As the phone lines close for the weekend, please also express your outrage by signing this petition.

Sign it now and then pass it on. We need to show that the Americans are united in demanding a plan to end the bloodshed – now.

As we all wrestle with our feelings after this horrific event, we think Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have said it best, so we wanted to share this with you:

With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five year-olds.

President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.

Our determination is also stronger than ever. We will continue to tirelessly promote laws that would prevent these kinds of tragedies. We need you, your family members, your friends, and neighbors to all join with us so we CAN enact smart gun laws that save lives.

Sign the petition. Pass it around. Join us in demanding that our leaders defend our safety.

Today Is the Day to Demand Change

We are devastated by news of the shooting today in Newtown, Connecticut and the unspeakable suffering that is occurring there. We cannot imagine what the families are going through now. We should all be appalled by this and should demand swift action.

The most fundamental duty of our government is to protect our communities, especially our innocent children. Despite mass shootings that have shattered families across the country this year, our leaders have repeatedly failed to do anything to prevent future bloodshed.

We cannot stand for this failure any longer. Our children’s lives depend on it.

Our leaders will keep ducking this issue until they hear from all of us. Call the White House now and demand that President Obama tell us what he plans to do about this epidemic.

Call now! 202-456-1414

President Obama needs to show leadership on this issue. While he spoke today about the need for meaningful action, he has yet to take any real steps toward making us safer. Given the 34 murders with guns that happen every day, the president’s failure to lead is unacceptable.

Call the White House now and demand a plan: 202-456-1414

Recent School Shootings Prompt Question: “How Do Kids Get Access to Guns?”

Photos from the Ohio and Washington School Shootings.

The Law Center expresses our deepest condolences to the families affected by Monday’s tragic mass shooting in Chardon, Ohio, where a 17-year-old entered Chardon High School armed with a handgun and fired 10 rounds in the school’s cafeteria, killing three students and wounding two others.

Sadly, the school shooting in Chardon wasn’t the only recent incident of gun violence in one of our nation’s schools. Less than one week before, an 8-year-old girl in Bremerton, Washington was critically wounded in her third grade classroom, when a gun brought to school by one of her classmates, a 9-year-old boy, accidentally discharged while in the boy’s backpack.

The shootings, occurring over two thousand miles apart, might seem very different: one was intentional, the other an accident. But according to emerging news reports, both children acquired their guns in the same way, by taking them from family members’ homes.

All too often, kids get access to guns because adults don’t act responsibly. A 2005 study on firearm storage practices in U.S. homes concluded that over 1.69 million children and youth under age 18 are living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms.

Easy access to loaded and unlocked guns in the home increases the risk of intentional and accidental shootings. Strong laws that require the safe storage of firearms and prohibit leaving guns accessible to children can work to reduce these risks. At the very least, they send a strong message that we care enough about the safety of our children to require gun owners to act responsibly. Continue reading

8-year-old Critical after Washington School Shooting

8-year-old Critical After Washington School Shooting
Manuel Valdes, Associated Press, Feb. 23, 2012

This article reports on a tragic discharge of a firearm brought to school by an elementary school student that critically wounded an 8-year-old classmate in Washington.  The article notes that Washington lacks a child access prevention law that would subject the adult who owned the firearm to criminal liability for his or her lack of responsible storage of the gun.