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We support universal background checks | Mayor's Message


Last updated 10/8/2014 at Noon

Police Chief Rex Caldwell helped write this Mayor’s Message. -Ed.

There is no duty we take more seriously as your mayor and police chief than the responsibility to keep our community safe.

Whenever we swear in a new police officer or firefighter, we are reminded that these brave women and men go to work every day to make sure we can live our lives without fear of violence or harm.

But there are always things we can do to make their job easier. That is why we support universal background checks for gun purchases in our state.

It is our job to ensure that our Constitution and laws are enforced. We both believe in the right of responsible gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

We know many Mukilteo residents are hunters and sportsmen, while others find peace of mind knowing that they could defend themselves.

But our Constitution and laws provide no right for domestic abusers or criminals to obtain guns. That is why we have background checks.

Yet every year in this state, more than 40,000 guns are posted for sale by unlicensed sellers on just five online sites, with no background check required for purchasers.

For Monique Williams, a 29-year-old nurse from the Tri-Cities, this loophole cost Monique her life.

Her estranged boyfriend, Aaron Joe Newport, who was prohibited from purchasing firearms due to a domestic violence conviction, went online and arranged to buy a handgun online because he knew no background check would be required.

According to a friend who accompanied him, he met the seller in a parking lot where he paid cash and picked up the gun. A few days later, he killed Monique and then turned the gun on himself.

This did not have to happen. According to one of his friends, Newport had attempted to buy a handgun at a licensed firearms dealer, but was turned down because he failed the background check.

But, because of a loophole, thousands of unlicensed sellers can post guns for sale online, with no background check required for purchasers.

A recent study found that nearly 1 in 10 people seeking a firearm in an online unlicensed sale in Washington is prohibited from possessing a gun. This includes people charged with violent crimes, domestic abusers, and people convicted of assaulting police officers.

If this study is true, that means every year over 4,000 guns could be moving into the hands of criminals just from online sales alone.

When guns fall into the wrong hands, it presents a threat to our community. Stories like Monique’s should not happen. We can take steps to make sure these stories aren’t repeated in other communities.

Background checks work. They stop people like Aaron Joe Newport from buying guns in stores. Closing the loopholes will ensure they can’t go online either to skirt the law.

Universal background checks aren’t the only thing we can do to prevent gun violence.

You can also help keep your family safe by properly locking and storing your own firearms. If you don’t have a gun lock, stop by the Mukilteo Police Department and pick one up for free.

Using a gun safe and a lock can help keep firearms out of the hands of people who are not properly trained in safety practices and secure from those who might try to steal them from your home or vehicle.

We are fortunate to have an amazing team of police officers and firefighters that work hard to keep us all safe. We hope you will join us in doing what we can to make that job easier.

Gun violence doesn’t have to happen, and we can all do something about it.


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