An estimated 800-2000 people marched from Westlake Park to a gun control rally at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater on Sunday. The rally called StandUp Washington was organized by a coalition including Washington CeaseFire, the Austin Foundation and several churches and faith organizations. The intent of the march and rally was to garner support for State lawmakers hoping to pass an assault weapons ban during the 2013 legislative session which starts today in Olympia.
State Senator Ed Murray who marched from Westlake and then spoke at the rally plans to introduce legislation to ban assault weapons but faces steep opposition from conservative lawmakers and groups that traditionally oppose anti-gun legislation like the National Rifle Association.
Murray was optimistic of legislation’s chances but indicated it was important to open a dialog with the opposition instead of just attacking them saying, “We will only win if we reach out and continue to change the hearts and minds of Washingtonians.”
Seattle Mayor McGinn also attended the rally and talked about the upcoming January 26th Seattle/King County gun buyback program, a part of the new Gun Safety Initiative. The program, Seattle’s first since 1992 will allow people to turn in guns no questions asked and receive gift cards ranging from $100 for handguns up to $200 for assault weapons. The gift cards are being provided entirely by donation from local businesses and nonprofits including $30,000 form Amazon and $25,000 from the Seattle Police Foundation. Over $100,000 has been pledged so far.
McGinn also spoke about the to be proposed gun control legislation hoping the State would give city mayors the power to establish gun-free zones. “I don’t have the authority to say, ‘We don’t want guns at the Seattle Center,” he said alluding to his 2010 attempt to ban guns in Seattle parks that was overturned by the King County District Court, and affirmed by the State Court of Appeals saying that cities can’t pre-empt State gun control laws.