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County Council joins young people in calling for end to gun violence


Members endorse national March for Our Lives


King County is part of an unfortunate and tragic trend: on January 4 there was a shooting at Seattle’s New Start High School. That shooting was one of 15 shootings on elementary, middle, and high school and college campuses in the United States since the start of the New Year. The Metropolitan King County Council today endorsed the effort of the young people in King County and throughout the nation who are participating in the national March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24 calling for an end to preventable gun violence.

The school shootings in 2018 have been in all sections of the U.S., with the most recent shooting ending the lives of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14. In the last five years, eight school shootings have occurred in Washington state, four of which resulted in injury or death.

“We must stop responding with thoughts and prayers to terrible tragedies that can be prevented in our country with common sense changes to our firearm laws,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott. “After following the leadership of local students by marching this coming Saturday, voting to establish the Council’s policy supporting federal and state laws to keep weapons of war out of our communities is an important next step in this reform process. Should the state provide local jurisdictions like King County more flexibility to pass laws protecting our residents, we’ll take that step as soon as possible.”

“March for Our Lives shows the power of youth voices,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “Adults and elected leaders have the responsibility to listen and address gun violence. It's time to respond to our nation's youth and send a message that their lives are valued.”

King County residents will have the opportunity to participate in March for Our Lives, with local events taking place in Auburn, North Bend, Seattle, and Vashon-Maury Island. Youth and young adults are organizing many of these local marches, which are being held in solidarity with the march occurring in Washington DC by survivors of the Douglas High School shooting. They have organized the March for Our Lives on both a community and national level, asking Congress to enact sensible gun safety legislation.

“These students are not political tools, they are political activists. I applaud them for their civic involvement and deep personal commitment to critical changes that I wholeheartedly support,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “Their youth doesn’t invalidate their morals and intelligence, and their precious lives are in the crosshairs. Now is the time for the reforms they demand.”

“I am moved and impressed by the students in King County, including those who attended today from Mercer Island, who are taking the lead to demand that we adults get our act together to make our young people safer in school,” said Councilmember Claudia Balducci. “With this motion, King County Councilmembers stand with these young leaders and seek solutions.”

The motion adopted by the County Council endorses the March for Our Lives, and the effort of the young people both locally and nationally in working to reduce preventable gun violence. The motion also calls on Congress to immediately act on measures aimed at reducing gun violence, including effective background checks, preventing access to lethal assault-style weapons, and eliminating existing restrictions on gun violence research. It also calls on Washington state to grant local governments the authority to enact legislation on guns by repealing the state preemption statute.

The final vote on the motion was 6-3 with Councilmembers McDermott, Dembowski, Gossett, Upthegrove, Balducci, and Kohl-Welles voting in favor of the motion.
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