SEATTLE—It took but 90 minutes after Friday morning’s shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School for groups advocating expanded gun-purchase background checks to begin issuing media statements.
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which is backing Initiative 594 on the November ballot to expand background checks to private sales and transfers, released a statement shortly after noon.
“While the facts of today’s shooting are still unclear, we do know that incidents like these are examples of the gun violence that’s all too frequent in our state,” the statement said. “It is up to all of us to come together and work to reduce gun violence.”
I-594 is competing on the November ballot with I-591, a proposal by gun-rights supporters that would restrict the state from enacting background check laws beyond the federal standard.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which opposes I-594, said expanded background checks would not have helped prevent Friday’s shootings.
“This deplorable incident would not have been stopped by I-594, as this shooter was underage to buy a firearm, and it is currently illegal to sell one to a minor,” Gottlieb, who is a leader in efforts to pass I-591. “To try to use this tragedy to push for passage of I-594 just shows what length the gun-prohibition lobby will go to further their anti-rights agenda.”
The alleged gunman was identified by students as Jaylen Fryberg, a freshman. Federal authorities said the gun was legally acquired, but it wasn’t clear how underage Fryberg ended up with it.
Moms Demand Action, which constitutes part of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety group, which has donated more than $2 million to help pass I-594, also released a statement. Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said “children and teachers should not be the front-line of America’s gun violence.”
“Americans are tired of watching news-helicopter footage of our children being led out of their schools—a place where they should be safe from the gun violence that kills 86 Americans every day,” Watts said in the remarks.
Watts added that Friday’s shooting was the 87th school shooting since the Newtown shooting in December 2012. Watts refers to the tally kept by Everytown For Gun Safety, the methodology of which has drawn scrutiny from the Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact. The tally includes incidents such as suicides or accidental discharges of weapons that occurred at school.
“The group’s criteria goes beyond what many people would consider school shootings’—incidents in which a student or an intruder enters a school and fires at innocent students and staff,” according to the PolitiFact report.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said shooters in two out of three school shootings get a gun from their own home or a relative’s home.
“If school shootings and other violent incidents at schools are to be stopped, the effort must begin at home,” Dan Gross, president of center, said in the statement. “It starts with parents, who need to recognize the risks of guns in the home and make safer choices about gun access and storage.”
Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist and major donor to the I-594 campaign, said on Twitter: “Another school shooting in Washington State. Of course, the gun nuts will tell you it’s because we don’t have enough guns.”
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords also issued a statement. Giffords, who was shot in the head in a 2011 shooting in Arizona, campaigned in Seattle on Wednesday in support of I-594.
“Our schools are supposed to be a place of safety, but far too often they are a place of gun violence and horror,” she said. “While we still don’t know all the details, we know that the loss of young, innocent lives is both tragic and unacceptable.”
Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said in an email Friday afternoon the group would not comment “until all the facts are known.”
(Seattle Times political reporter Jim Brunner contributed to this story.)
©2014 The Seattle Times
Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services