Commentary: 21 local pastors, faith community leaders back Initiative 594

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my newsThe following was written by 21 pastors and faith community leaders from Lynnwood, Edmonds, and Everett.

We write to ask for and encourage you to vote YES on Initiative 594. We believe this will help reduce gun violence in our communities. Local law enforcement, community leaders, gun owners and other citizens have supported our stand.

Initiative 594 is a common sense approach to the problem of gun violence. It has a simple and clear purpose — to make certain that everyone who buys a gun in Washington State passes the same background check, no matter where they buy the gun or from whom they buy it. A YES vote will close the unnecessary and dangerous loophole in our state’s law that makes it too easy for convicted criminals, domestic abusers and seriously mentally ill persons to obtain weapons.

We know background checks work. Decades of experience in the U.S. have shown it does. Since 1998 background checks have blocked over 40,000 sales to prohibited purchasers with our flawed existing state law, including over 24,000 potential sales to convicted felons and over 6,000 potential sales to domestic abusers. Currently those same people can and do purchase guns at a gun show or from a stranger they meet online, no background check required. Initiative 594 will close this loophole.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia currently require background checks on all handgun sales, as Initiative 594 requires. In those states, compared to ours, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, 39 percent fewer law enforcement officers are murdered with handguns and 64 percent fewer guns are exported out of state and used in crimes in other communities.

Every time there is another terrible incident of gun violence in a school full of children or against a spouse, we hear “Something must be done”. We know Initiative 594 will not stop every incident of gun violence. We also know that background checks are the most effective single thing our state can do to reduce crime and save lives.

Rev. Maynard Atik, Edmonds
Rev. Paul Benz, Co-Director of Faith Action Network
Rev. M. Christophe Boyer, Good Shepherd Babtist Church, Lynnwood
J. Elmer Brunk, D. Min. Retired, Member of Edmonds United Methodist Church
Rev. Dennie Carcelli, Edmonds United Methodist Church
The Rev. Dr. Roger D. Cone
The Rev. Stanley G. Fowler, Episcopal Priest, Edmonds
Rev. Richard Gibson, Presbyterian Church (USA), Lynnwood
The Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James, Edmonds United Methodist Church
Rev. Carol Jensen, St. John United Lutheran Church
Rev. Eric Kaminestsky, Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church
Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett, Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness
Rev. Susan Kirlin-Hackett, Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Marilyn Littlejohn, Home Church, Edmonds United Methodist Church
Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall, Temple Beth Or, Everett
Rev. Paul Mitchell, United Methodist Pastor
Rev. Roger G. O’Brien, Senior Presbyter, Archdiocese of Seattle
Rev. David Parks, Everett
Rev. Tom Quigley, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Mukilteo
Rev. Herbert A. Stocker, Presbyterian Church (USA), Edmonds
Rev. Brian Wright, Deacon, St. Hilda St. Patrick Episcopal Church, Edmonds

First and last name must be used for comment to be approved.