Voters may be voting on a new gun initiative this fall. The group Alliance for Gun Responsibility announced Friday it will launch an initiative drive called the 'Reduce Assault Weapon Violence: Safe Schools, Safe Communities Initiative.'
"We are done with Olympia not doing what their constituents are calling for," said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility in a news release.
The new initiative is an expanded version of what stalled in the state legislature this past session and calls for several changes in current gun laws:
- Raise the age to purchase semiautomatic rifles to 21 (currently 18)
- Enhance background checks for rifles to be the same as handguns
- Require gun owners to take a firearms safety training course
- Create standards for secure storage
Lawmakers did approve the formation of a special school safety task force to develop strategies against potential threats or perpetrators.
The Alliance still needs to gather around 300,000 signatures by July in order to qualify for the November Ballot. Supporters are banking on the help of student activism ignited after the shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida.
On Friday, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting tragedy 19 years ago, students filled Occidental Square in Seattle to rally for changes to current gun laws, as well as register first-time voters and encourage them to volunteer.
"From my perspective, I think we've reached a saturation point where a lot of people are calling it enough. It's becoming normalized, almost, that school shootings are happening," Octo Tofoleanu. "We're angry."
However, the students recognize that intense passion also exists on the other side of the highly polarized political issue.
"With any movement in one direction, there's going to be an equal force in the opposite direction to counter that, because there are different political beliefs," said Tofoleanu.
A pro-gun rally scheduled for Saturday in Olympia is expected to draw around 2,000 supporters, according to organizer Tessa Ashley.
Ashley, 26-year-old mom and student, says she became involved in Second Amendment issues after an attempted break-in at her home.
"I wish we could all collectively come together which is why we organized this rally on how we can strengthen school safety without infringing upon law-abiding citizens' rights to bear arms.
Ashley believes common ground between the two sides could be found on strengthening school safety and federal background checks.
Meanwhile, the goal of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility is targeting November 2018 for their latest measure.
The group has successfully run two previous high profile ballot initiatives: one in 2014 established universal background checks, another in 2016 established Extreme Risk Protection Orders.