By Rabbi Joshua Samuels
I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life (Deut 30:19).
This week, Washingtonians voted overwhelmingly in favor of Initiative 1639, the only gun-regulation measure on any state ballot this November. With the passage of this initiative, Washington now has one of the strictest firearms laws in the nation. I-1639 raises the legal age to buy semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21, enhances background checks for purchasing handguns, mandates firearm training, and creates a waiting period of 10 business days after purchase to retrieve a firearm. Additionally, this law establishes stricter standards for the responsible storage of all firearms.
Raising the minimum age to legally attain semiautomatic assault rifles to 21 as well as the other precautions included in this measure will help increase public safety by reducing gun violence and ensuring that children and other prohibited individuals do not accidentally or unlawfully gain access to violent weapons.
The citizens of Washington have spoken loud and clear: We will not stand idly by as the blood of our neighbor is shed. As a nation that lays its loved ones to rest from gun violence at an alarming rate, we must come together and say “No more.” Initiative 1639 is a start. We hope the time comes when the rest of the country follows Washington’s lead by choosing to protect its citizens instead of arming them.
Rabbi Joshua Samuels is the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Bellingham, WA.