Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, today at police headquarters.
  • E.S.
  • Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, today at police headquarters.
At an afternoon press conference at police headquarters, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn called the shootings in Newtown "a tragedy beyond words" and expressed sympathy for the victims, adding: "We know what it's like in this city to have senseless shootings."

Seattle police have increased their visibility around public schools in response to this morning's news, and McGinn encouraged anyone seeing anything suspicious to call 911. But, he said, "The real question on a lot of people's minds is: 'What can we do about this? What can we do to stop this?'"

He called on the Washington State legislature to close the gun show loophole, pass an assault weapons ban, and stop preempting cities like Seattle from banning guns in community centers and other public places. He also called on legislators to use the session that begins in January to start restoring funding for mental health services—"instead of, as they've been doing, cutting funding."

Seattle Police Chief John Diaz agreed: "We need to do something about the issues involving gun control... We have a gun culture in this country. I think that needs to change."

McGinn also expressed frustration with the typical cycles of response that the country goes through after shootings like this one. "We know how this works," he said. People will be outraged. Calls for change will be made. And those who oppose change will just sit back, wait it out, and prevent change from happening later on, when people aren't as outraged anymore.

"It's the duty of the people, and the duty of elected officials, to keep the pressure on," McGinn said.

Okay. So what's he going to do to keep the pressure on?

"We've been pushing each year," McGinn said, promising he would reach out to other mayors around the state as he continues to lobby for gun control in Olympia this year.

Does he think that the state legislature, by refusing to enact meaningful gun-control legislation, is putting Washington State's children at risk?

"Yes," McGinn said. "Absolutely."