Paul Allen wants tougher gun laws in our state. So one of the world's richest men is throwing his money behind an effort to get them.
The Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder announced this week he has donated $1 million to an initiative to raise the minimum age for purchases of semi-automatic, assault rifles in Washington to 21 years old, among other gun-control changes.
Their owner championing a push for better gun control is the latest Seahawks effort to better society well beyond football. Last year Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett sat during national anthems to raise awareness for the need for social reform and justice. Pro Bowl wide receiver Doug Baldwin has for the last two years been pushing for police reform with other initiatives in our state and national capitols.
Washington's Initiative 1639 Allen is backing seeks to put to a state-wide public vote a proposed law that would also create a system of background checks to buy semi-automatic weapons similar to the one required for handguns, require the completion of a firearms safety course within five years prior to the purchase of these weapons and create standards for safe gun storage.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility needs to get about 260,000 petition signatures statewide before the initiative can qualify to be on the ballot for the November 2018 general election.
“Gun violence is an avoidable epidemic and is far too common in our country and state. Too many people have lost their lives to violence; too many families, children, and communities are rattled to the core. The people of Washington—from the kids marching for their lives, to their parents and grandparents who are calling their elected officials– demand action NOW,” said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.
“We’re answering their call with a comprehensive ballot initiative to help ensure safer schools and neighborhoods and through extensive work with voters ahead of November’s election. We must elect more gun responsibility champions and do whatever we can to strengthen our gun violence prevention laws.”
Allen's pledge to the initiative comes days after a student at Santa Fe High School in southeast Texas fired a shotgun and revolver in the school, killing 10 people: eight schoolmates and two teachers.
The Washington Post reported last weekend an unfathomable statistic: 2018 has so far been deadlier for schoolchildren in the United States than it has been for members of our armed forces.
Allen's donation comes after the Washington state legislature, where Democrats are in the majority, failed during the 2018 legislative session to advance a series of gun-control regulations. Governor Jay Inslee's office has been frustrated at the lack of support for a bill to raise the minimum age to buy semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21 and other tough gun restrictions.
Allen is using his money and reputation to try to make an end run around the Legislature's inaction, to put the responsibility for creating tougher gun laws with Washington's voters instead.
Allen won in a similar challenge four years ago, while using half the money. He donated $500,000 to a successful campaign in Washington to expand background checks on gun sales in our state.