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Kenmore rallies against gun violence

Community members gathered at Kenmore City Hall on June 5 for a “Rally to end gun violence,”

Dozens of elected officials, gun control advocates, Inglemoor students and citizens of Kenmore filled the city council chamber of Kenmore City Hall on June 5 for a “Rally to End Gun Violence,” organized following the May 24 elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 students and two teachers. The gathering was arranged by Deputy Mayor Melanie O’Cain, mother of senior Brooke Brandwiede and sophomore Jordan Brandewiede.

Attendees began arriving at City Hall around 1 p.m. to wave signs on nearby street corners, but the main event began at 2 p.m., when invited speakers spoke to a crowd of about 50.

Speakers included O’Cain, gun control advocate Emily Cantrell, state senator David Frockt, state senator Derek Stanford, King County Councilmember Rob Dembowski, state representative Davina Duerr and Kenmore Mayor Nigel Herbig. Megan Utemi, who serves as King County Outreach Director for Senator Patty Murray, also passed on a message from Murray, who could not be in attendance.

Each speaker took a different tact with the audience. O’Cain used her platform to call for a return to humanity in discussions about gun violence, while Cantrell recounted her experience as a survivor of the 2017 Las Vegas music festival mass shooting.

Frockt, who currently represents the legislative district that includes Inglemoor, asked those in attendance to make opponents of gun control “irrelevant” by electing policymakers with an agenda focused towards gun control.

Stanford, who will soon represent the legislative district in which Inglemoor resides, asked listeners to take a step back from their frustrations on the issue. In an interview with Nordic News, he asked Inglemoor students to recognize that “this is always what it looks like before big things happen. Before we are able to take that big bold step. We’ll hit that tipping point where we can take big steps on these things. So don’t get discouraged and frustrated.”

Dembowski spent several minutes detailing policies implemented by King County to curb gun violence, though he noted that state law blocks any substantive action on gun violence by individual cities or counties in Washington. He also announced that he plans to introduce a bill on June 8 to allow unwanted firearms to be safely returned to King County Sheriff offices.

After the invited speakers finished, an open invitation was extended to attendees who wished to speak to the crowd. The vast majority of those who volunteered expressed their personal experiences with gun violence or called for varying forms of action such as assault weapon bans. NSD Board Director Amy Cast discussed her insights into gun issues from the perspective of a district leader.

One Kenmore citizen, John Peeples, asked attendees to thank the National Rifle Association for their efforts to keep children safe and asked that the community protect students from gun violence “like we do banks” by locking the doors of schools. His speech was often inaudible due to booing from the crowd.

Washington State has passed several laws in recent years to prevent gun violence, including bans on high-capacity magazines, ghost guns and bump stocks; universal background checks; a minimum age of 21 to purchase semi-automatic weapons; and Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which allow guns to be taken away from those deemed by courts to be a potential threat.

However, in an interview with Nordic News, Frockt noted that “there’s always more improvements we can make.” 

“I think in the legislature, the big push there — the big question in the legislature — is going to be: ‘Will there be a ban on assault weapons eventually passed?’” said Frockt.

He said that if such legislation was implemented, he did not think the state would take steps to take away existing assault weapons but would simply ban their sale in the state. Frockt also noted that the likelihood of such a ban passing will depend on who is elected during the election this November, and that even some Democratic state legislators had expressed hesitancy because of the passionate gun advocates in their districts.

“I think the question for those who want to vote on this issue is: will they have the intensity of those who are opposed? And if that intensity has to be raised to make this the issue people vote on, then you might see changes,” said Frockt. “It’s not going to be easy. And I think the voters have to decide if this is important to you — maybe you’re mad at Biden, about inflation or mad at him about whatever — but I don’t like what’s happening. I think this stuff we are doing with guns is nuts. And we have to make a change here.”

In an interview with Nordic News, Herbig — who said he supports a ban on assault weapons — summed up the general sentiment of those assembled at the rally.

“[My daughter] can tell me off the top of her head exactly what their active shooter drills are. And that is heartbreaking to me. Kids should be worried about math and making friends and doing all the stuff that kids need to do in high school to grow into adults, not worrying about where they need to hide if somebody comes in with a gun,” said Herbig. “So I hope that we will get to a place where we can get back to kids not having to think about that when they go to school.”

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About the Contributor
Kellen Hoard
Kellen Hoard, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Senior Kellen Hoard is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Nordic News this year, and is thrilled to be able to share hopefully somewhat intelligent writing with Inglemoor students about topics they may or may not have previously considered. His main goal for the year will be to convince the newspaper to use the Oxford comma. Outside of Nordic, Kellen is involved in politics, numismatics, Model UN, and choir. He is particularly passionate about Welch’s fruit snacks.  

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Kenmore rallies against gun violence