In response to this morning's announcement by Mayor Mike McGinn and Washington Ceasefire of a voluntary program to encourage local businesses to declare themselves a "Gun Free Zone," state senator and mayoral challenger Ed Murray has issued the following the statement:
"For three years, the most we saw from this mayor on gun violence was a highly misleading gun meltdown press conference. Now, a week after another tragic shooting, he proposes a well-intentioned but largely symbolic gesture that will do little to reduce gun violence on our streets. Again, this is a case where the mayor is reacting to headlines, rather than leading on an important issue.
"What we really need are effective gun control measures like universal criminal background checks. I am a strong supporter of Initiative 594, a proposed initiative to the legislature, which would close the gun show loophole and require background checks for online gun sales. It would make a real difference in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. I am proud of my long history of advocating for reduced gun violence, including co-sponsoring background check reforms. If elected mayor, I will make approval of I-594, either legislatively or at the ballot box, a top priority of my administration."
You know, it probably would've been possible to write an effective statement on this without coming off as a total dick—maybe something vaguely supportive of the program, before pivoting to the more effective approach that Murray would promise to deliver as mayor. But Murray's got the best in business working for him, so I'll just have to trust that they know what they're doing.
To be clear, the press conference fail that Murray cites came in the wake of a highly successful gun buyback that far exceeded expectations. And while Murray might dismiss that as "largely symbolic" too, it's not like Murray's legislature has left Seattle's mayor with many options, what with our state's statutory preemption of tougher local gun laws. Murray had 18 years in Olympia to pass the universal background checks he boasts about co-sponsoring, yet even in the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook and Café Racer, he and the rest of the Democratic leadership failed to pass a single substantive piece of gun control legislation. Surely Murray can't be arguing that he would have greater influence in Olympia as Seattle's mayor than he did as the leader of the senate Democratic caucus?
I mean, it's great and all that Mayor Murray would make approving I-594 a priority of his administration. Yay! But if that's not a "largely symbolic gesture"—a Seattle mayor backing a statewide initiative—I don't know what is.
UPDATE: Back in January, in a guest post on Slog, Ed Murray made some more thoughtful comments on gun control, the gist being (if I understand it correctly) that we might need to move incrementally on these reforms, the same way we did on marriage equality. Not sure how that comports with today's "I-594 now!" strategy. Also, according to January-Ed, "attacking our elected representatives who share the goal of reforming our gun laws—while understandable—is not a winning strategy." (The emphasis is his.)