At an emotional news conference this afternoon, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he would call a special meeting of the City Council in the coming weeks to address what he called a “senseless epidemic of gun violence.”
Murray said he met this week with the families of two Central District murder victims, killed early Sunday morning, and attended a prayer vigil for them Thursday night. And he said he prayed with students at Seattle Pacific University this morning, a day after a shooting left one student dead and three injured, one critically.
Murray said he was responding not just to the two shootings, but gun violence that occurs “again and again, week after week, year after year.”
Murray was joined at the news conference by about two dozen human-rights and LGBT activists as well as faith-community leaders. One of the young men killed Sunday was gay. Murray said a solution to the problem had eluded his predecessors and mayors around the country, but that he believes that community members getting engaged in the problem could make a difference.
He said the focus on public safety since he took office in January had been on police reform, but now had to shift to making all neighborhoods in the city safe. “We must find a solution,” Murray said.
Murray called Initiative 594 that would expand background checks for gun sales in the state a “small step toward a more rational conversation about gun violence.
“So far in this state we have made practically no steps around the issues of responsible gun ownership,” Murray said. “We don’t want to take guns away from people who are using them legally and obtained them legally. But if we don’t start to change the laws in this state, in this country about who owns a gun and how many guns are out there illegally, then the sort of tragedy we’ve seen twice this week, three deaths, will not change.”