Mayor joins survivor at gun control discussion

September 3, 2013

By Peter Clark

Mayor Ava Frisinger (left), holds a picture of her nephew who was killed by a gun accident as Jewish Federation shooting survivor Cheryl Stumbo listens during a discussion Aug. 27. By Peter Clark

Mayor Ava Frisinger (left), holds a picture of her nephew who was killed by a gun accident as Jewish Federation shooting survivor Cheryl Stumbo listens during a discussion Aug. 27. By Peter Clark

A survivor of the 2006 Jewish Federation shootings sat down with Mayor Ava Frisinger to call for universal background checks Aug. 27.

Cheryl Stumbo, one of six shot by Naveed Afzal Haq, has begun actively lobbying lawmakers to support Initiative 594, which calls for “extending the requirement for a background check to apply to all gun sales and transfers in the state.” Toward that aim, she was invited by Frisinger, herself a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and a victim of gun violence, to lead a roundtable discussion at City Hall.

“We’re here today to share stories of gun violence,” Stumbo said. “This is sort of one of those taboo subjects and I think that’s part of the problem. We want our elected leaders to hear us.”

Seven years after the shooting, which left one dead, Stumbo went through 20 surgeries and years of intense post-traumatic stress therapy. Around the end of last year, she said she felt a growing urge to publicly voice her support for limiting gun violence.

“A week later, Sandy Hook happened,” she said. “So, I’ve decided that I’m going to talk about it.”

Frisinger joined Stumbo in describing how gun violence affected her family. With a strained voice, holding a picture of the victim, she told of her 11-year-old nephew who was killed by a friend displaying a gun.

“I still remember that phone call,” Frisinger said. “I fell into a chair. I just toppled. I was devastated.”

With that tragedy a part of her experience, she said her administration has led a charge to increase the level of gun safety in the community.

Mayors from Seattle, Tacoma and Snoqualmie are also in the Mayors Against Gun Violence organization, which works with lawmakers to support bills that could curb gun violence.

Frisinger acknowledged that not all state or local representatives might favor universal background checks, but that would not stop her from supporting the initiative.

“Whether it’s uphill or not, I think it’s a battle worth fighting,” she said.

Stumbo and Frisinger invited citizens to sign petitions in support of Initiative 594 and to contact their representatives. Petitions are available at demandaction.org.

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