Vote yes on Initiative 1639
On Sept. 28, the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter published a letter to the editor (“Vote NO on I-1639”) that misrepresented Initiative 1639, which will appear on the state ballot this November. The author of the letter said that the initiative is a “distraction” and failed to address the pertinent issues that cause gun violence in our community. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a Bothell resident, mother, and former teacher, I recognize that Initiative I-1639 directly addresses the most significant causes of gun injury and death.
Semi-automatic rifles have been recently become an issue of public concern. Because their speed of fire, semi-automatic weapons are significantly more dangerous than other guns on the market. In Washington state, a semi-automatic weapon can be more easily obtained than a handgun. Initiative I-1639 balances the increased potential danger with an increased safety measures. The initiative requires an enhanced background check, similar to that required for the purchase of a handgun. It also implements a 10-day waiting period, and raises the legal purchasing age of a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21. Additionally the purchaser must have taken a recognized gun safety program within the last five years. To cover the costs of the increased safety measures, people buying a semi-automatic rifle a new fee of up to $25. Considering that a semi-automatic rifle costs upwards of $300, a $25 fee seems like a small price to pay.
Initiative I-1639 will also encourage legal gun owners to properly secure their guns by imposing a fine if someone prohibited from possessing a weapon accessed the firearm. Half of prison inmates report they accessed their gun through theft, or illegally on the black market. Between 2012 and 2015, more than 33,000 firearms were stolen from individual gun owners in Washington. Gun owners certainly have the right to protect themselves, but they must also protect the community by using with responsible storage.
I absolutely believe that citizens have the right to choose whether or not they have a weapon, but I also recognize that this right comes with increased responsibility. I encourage everyone to take direct action against gun violence and vote yes on Initiative 1639.