President Obama called for a “transformation” of the nation’s gun laws and acknowledged that change won’t come from Congress. It has to come from the American people.
Two competing efforts are underway from “American people” in Washington to change gun laws.
As the president attended a memorial service for the victims of last week’s deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, activists here were gathering signatures for two initiatives that will likely appear on the ballot in November of 2014.
The Washington Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases Initiative, also known as Initiative 594 would require background checks to be run on every person purchasing a gun in the state of Washington, even those who are doing so via private sales.
Under I-594, transfers of antique guns and those between immediate family members are exempt from the background checks.
A initiative spokesman says they’ve collected 225,000 signatures, out of the 320,000 needed.
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, based in Bellevue, is behind Initiative 591 which would prevent the state from adopting its own restrictive background check requirements.
I-591 states that “It is unlawful for any government agency to confiscate guns or other firearms from citizens without due process” and “It is unlawful for any government agency to require background checks on the recipient of a firearm unless a uniform national standard is required.”
During the president’s eulogy Sunday he said, “Our tears are not enough,” and “our words and our prayers are not enough… We are going to have to change.”
Gun violence in America “ought to obsess us,” Mr. Obama said.
He also said we can’t begin to think mass shootings are “the new normal.”
Americans must fight “a creeping resignation” about mass shootings, the president said.
Obama proposed a series of gun control laws after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. One of the proposals was expanded background checks, which Congress blocked. Instead, some, mostly Republican, members of Congress support laws that prevent the mentally ill from obtaining weapons.
Washington Mayor Vincent Gray also spoke saying America is “drowning in a sea of guns.”
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told those gathered for the memorial, “This act of evil defies comprehension.”
By LINDA THOMAS