At the May 15 City Council meeting, Mayor Debbie Bertlin proclaimed June 1, 2018 to be National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the city of Mercer Island. The day will honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence, and declare that the U.S. a country must do more to reduce gun violence.
Every day, 96 Americans are killed by gun violence and on average there are nearly 13,000 gun homicides every year, according to the city’s proclamation. Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed with guns than people in other developed countries.
National Gun Violence Awareness Day honors the life of Hadiya Pendleton, who killed by gunfire in her hometown of Chicago when she was just 15 years old. Pendleton’s friends wore the color orange in her honor. Her family and friends ask communities to stand up, speak out and wear orange on June 1 to raise awareness about gun violence.
The city is also launching its participation in an ongoing national campaign to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and reduce unintentional firearms deaths — Project Childsafe. The city’s Youth and Family Services and police departments will offer gun safety kits that include cable-style gun locks, and other safety information, at kiosks in their buildings. Learn more about Project Childsafe at www.projectchildsafe.org.
Other Islanders have become involved with gun safety initiatives recently.
Last year, state Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) sponsored a bill, HB 1483, which helps address gun violence by giving the Washington State Patrol the option to destroy guns confiscated as a result of criminal activity, instead of being required to resell them.
Last week, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen announced that he is giving $1 million each to the Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s campaign to get Initiative 1639 on the November election ballot. It would require gun owners to keep firearms secured at home, raise the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon to 21 and require enhanced background checks, training and waiting periods to obtain those firearms.
The city supports for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, which go “hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from dangerous people,” according to its proclamation. Read the full proclamation at www.mercergov.org.