Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and gun-control group Washington CeaseFire want businesses to put a sticker on the outside of their store declaring themselves gun free, decals that will let potential gun-toting patrons know in no uncertain terms that their concealed welcomes are not welcome – even if they have permits to carry.
Apparently sensing an opportunity, McGinn’s political rival, Ed Murray, this afternoon jumped all over the mayor for his “gun-free zone” initiative.
“For three years, the most we saw from this mayor on gun violence was a highly misleading gun meltdown press conference,” Murray said in a statement. “Now, a week after another tragic [the Metro bus] shooting, he proposes a well-intentioned but largely symbolic gesture that will do little to reduce gun violence on our streets. Again, this is a case where the mayor is reacting to headlines, rather than leading on an important issue.”
Reached for comment this afternoon, Washington CeaseFire board president Ralph Fascitelli was less than thrilled with Murray’s statement, calling it “hypocritical,” while accusing the mayoral hopeful of “putting politics over public safety.” Fascitelli pointed to a shooting at a Starbucks in May as exactly the kind of tragedy that could be prevented by the “gun-free zone” effort.
“I’m surprised and disappointed that he would say that,” Fascitelli says of Murray’s released statement. “I think it’s pretty hypocritical for a leader in the state senate who has so abysmally failed [on gun control] to criticize a program … that business are excited about and that can be substantive.”
While Murray calls today’s announcement a “well-intentioned but largely symbolic gesture,” and accuses McGinn of “reacting to headlines, rather than leading on an important issue,” Fascitelli says that’s anything but the case. The Washington CeaseFire board president says McGinn specifically delayed today’s announcement until after the primary to avoid the appearance he was playing politics because the mayor strongly believes in the effort, and that - when it comes to gun control and reducing gun violence - “the arrow points to McGinn.” Though he was reluctant to speak for Washington CeaseFire as a whole, Fascitelli says he personally supports McGinn over Murray because of the leadership the incumbent has shown on gun violence issues. “For Sen. Murray to criticize this makes us concerned,” Fascitelli offered in his official capacity as CeaseFire’s board president.
“There’s been zero leadership from the governor on down in Olympia [on gun control], including Mr. Murray,” Fascitelli adds. “We asked him to put in the same effort [for gun control] as he did for gay marriage, and he was backing up all the way.
“Shame on him.”
Murray, meanwhile, in his released statement, said it is more important to enact gun control measures like universal criminal background checks than to create gun free zones in local businesses, adding that he strongly supports Initiative 594, which would close the gun show loophole and require background checks for online gun sales.
“It would make a real difference in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. I am proud of my long history of advocating for reduced gun violence, including co-sponsoring background check reforms,” Murray’s statement reads.
According to Fascitelli, today’s gun-free zone announcement is part of a three-pronged effort to increase public engagement on gun control issues. Earlier this year CeaseFire ran a series of bus ads warning against the dangers of having a gun in the home, and in the fall, Fascitelli says, CeaseFire plans to lead an effort directed at neighborhoods designed to help identify which homes have guns - so parents can make informed decisions about where their kids play.
So far, nearly a dozen businesses have signed up for a “Gun Free Zone” decal. One of those establishments is Cafe Racer, where a customer shot and killed four others last year. Other participants, according to Washington CeaseFire, include Neumos, Oddfellows Cafe & Bar, Sweatbox Yoga and Cupcake Royale,.