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Fighting for a safer Washington state

OFA volunteers are teaming up with the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility to organize for Initiative 594, a common-sense measure to expand criminal background checks for all gun sales. Seven in ten Washingtonians support the measure, but we still have a lot of work to do in the coming months to make sure it becomes law.

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is a coalition working to forge solutions to reduce gun violence and fighting for expanded background checks for all gun sales. For months now we’ve been building support for Initiative 594, which would require every Washingtonian buying a gun to pass the same criminal background check.

More than 325,000 signatures were needed by the end of 2013 in order to bring Initiative 594 to the Washington State legislature, and OFA volunteers dedicated ourselves to helping meet that goal.

Collecting signatures in Olympia.

Now, when I began organizing for gun violence prevention in Washington State, we only had three active volunteer chapters. We had some meetings and did some planning, and it became obvious we needed more people to help us reach our goal.

So we began growing our organization by reconnecting with former volunteers and meeting with other advocates for gun violence prevention. By far the most successful growth was in the Kitsap Peninsula Region. Initially this was one of the smallest groups in the state, with just five regular volunteers, but in the end they gathered more than 3,000 signatures—the most in the state. Kitsap Peninsula organizers were especially successful at gathering signatures by talking to commuters on the ferries and holiday shoppers at the malls.

Cinda Dogget and Christina Jarmon both braved the stormy weather to gather signatures in Downtown Tacoma.

To keep growing, OFA-WA worked with the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s field organizers to plan more events. Bt the end, we were averaging 20 events per weekend in communities all over the state.

All told, more than 200 OFA volunteers collected signatures between October 1st and January 2nd.

Together we successfully met the threshold of 325,000 signatures to send Initiative 594 to the state legislature. If the initiative does not pass the state legislature, the measure will be on the ballot in the 2014 election.

While gathering signatures in Bellevue, Zenda Boss-Hall, and Kathleen Friedman were stopped by two soldiers who enthusiastically asked if they could take petitions with them.

From these thousands of conversations, we know that Washington citizens overwhelmingly support the expansion of background checks. Expanding background checks to all gun sales is important not only in Washington but across the country. Everyone deserves to live in a community where they are not at risk of being a victim of gun violence.

We’re confident that Initiative 594 would be successful in making Washington communities safer. We hope you’ll take action in your neighborhood to prevent gun violence.

Tell Congress to act
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