WA residents rally and join the national call for new gun laws to try to prevent mass shootings

OLYMPIA – With the pain of the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, at a school still burning, people across Washington State have joined the national March for Our Lives day
of protests, pleading with lawmakers to better regulate guns and honor those killed
by armed violence.

In Olympia, hundreds of educators and other supporters of the new restrictions marched to the state Capitol, while at a small rally in Seattle two mothers mourned sons shot years ago and said their unwavering grief was reignited by Uvalde and the racist massacre at a Buffalo grocery store 10 days earlier.

The Uvalde shooting, which left 21 dead, and the capture of 10
lives in Buffalo, were perpetrated by teenagers using semi-automatic rifles, a repeated feature of mass shootings that protesters hope can be curtailed through legislation.

Washington state lawmakers are discussing an assault weapons ban and possible training, licensing and registration requirements for gun owners.

Teachers at Olympia

Lisa Mahendran, who teaches fifth grade at Cathcart Elementary in Snohomish,
says that while she appreciates Washington’s relatively strict gun laws, the
the state should go further by raising the age of purchase of a weapon to 21 and by requiring
longer waiting times.

“The only way to change anything is tougher gun laws,” Mahendran said.
said. “Increased security in schools is not going to help. Arming teachers is
mad. We need tougher gun laws.

Mahendran, his mother Lynanne Lewis and fellow teacher, Cheryl Glassey,
said they had joined the march – where placards with slogans such as “protect
children, not guns” rose above the crowd – due to an increase
worry about the safety of students and educators.

“My goal should be to teach, not to know if I’ll take the first hit.
to save your child,” Glassey added. “It’s not my job, at least it shouldn’t
be.”

Lewis cried as he hugged Mahendran, saying she was worried about her
her daughter’s safety.

With around 300 protests planned across the country on Saturday, calls were made last week to rally not just in Olympia, but in communities including Bellingham, Bainbridge Island, Everett, Bremerton, Port Townsend, Longview, Moses Lake, Richland, Woodinville, Vancouver, Renton, Redmond and Lake Forest Park.

Moms in Seattle

About 70 people gathered in Seattle at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, where the names of those killed appeared on white signs with orange ribbons. The event, unrelated to March for Our Lives, was organized by the local NAACP and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee. About half of those injured or killed by firearms in King County are black, according to the NAACP.

Wanda Montgomery recalled cooking with her son DeShawn Milliken,
where he would step left and she would step right, dancing around their
kitchen. He was shot at age 30 in an altercation at a Bellevue nightclub on Christmas Eve 2012. The 19-year-old assailant was previously implicated in the murder of Ed “Tuba Man” McMichael at the Seattle Center.

“My son, he was my world. And I know people say it gets better with time. This
didn’t get better,” Montgomery said. “It will be 10 years in December of
this year, since he left, and my heart still aches. My heart is still
bleeding. I miss my little boy. No mother or father should have to bury their
child. And I want to thank you for being here, so I can say his name and
know that he will never be forgotten. I can say DeShawn Eugene Milliken.

Keonna Jackson, whose 24-year-old son D’Andre Dickerson was killed in a
northeast Portland parking lot in 2015, wore a black football jersey with
#DREDAY on the front, MOM on the back and the number 21 he wore as a wide receiver for Rainier Eagles youth football. He liked to invite people to barbecues, even those he didn’t know yet, Jackson said.

“He was the kind of person who instantly lit up a room once he
Between. You would laugh and smile when Dre was around. Now there is
silence where it all was.

Whenever Jackson hears about a shooting, she says, her first thought is
with moms.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recalled his childhood in the nearby central area,
where the boys could jostle or hit each other and then go play basketball. These days, no place is safe from deadly gunfire – not schools, not churches, not cinemas, he said.

Harrell suggested a ballot measure to remove the state’s preemption on guns
laws. This would allow Seattle to ban and confiscate guns in city parks,
for example, said the mayor.

“We’re going through a crazy pandemic right now,” he concluded. “Were
see mass shootings at unprecedented levels. It’s our time to love better
another.”

Montgomery later said Saturday was his first appearance at a political conference.
event, but that she donated $2,000 scholarships, spoke at church and
volunteers at food drives. “When they contacted me, I was delighted”
she said, “because I mean DeShawn Eugene Milliken’s name.”

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