AUBURN, Wash – On Sunday, Jordan Waits walked up and down Auburn streets canvassing for the Yes on I-1639 campaign.
“It’s important to me as citizens and voters that we contextualize our rights and do the things that are best for our community,” said Waits.
Waits served in the 1st battalion twelfth Marines from 2010-2014. He was a motor vehicle operator, fire team leader, and a line non-commissioned officer.
“I’ve seen what happens when somebody that takes six rounds to the chest," Waits said. "I’ve seen what someone looks like after they take one or two rounds from an AR-15. It’s not a joke."
It’s this background he says that encouraged him to join the campaign.
“I’ve seen the incredible devastation that weapon can cause," he said. "And I own several firearms myself. I’ve had thousands and thousands of hours of firearm training. And I firmly believe that that’s not something that we should hand to an 18-year-old without a background check and without training.”
I-1639 would raise the legal age to buy a semi-automatic rifle to 21. It would add background checks, training, and a 10-day waiting period to get these firearms. It also creates stricter gun storage laws statewide.
Stephen Paolini, Chair for the Yes on I-1639 campaign, said if passed, the initiative will be the most comprehensive gun violence prevention measure in the state’s history.
“It won’t stop hate," he said. "But it can help to disarm it. It can help to prevent easy and unfettered access to the deadliest kinds of firearms in this country, like the one that was used in Pittsburgh."
Those against the initiative say it will infringe on Second Amendment rights. According to the NRA, five state law enforcement agencies have said they’re against I-1639, including the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs and the Washington State Sheriffs Association.
Waits says many of his fellow Marines disagree with his viewpoint and he welcomes dissenting voices.
“I joined the Marine Corps because I care about my community, I wanted to protect my community, I want to make things better for Americans. And that doesn’t stop when you take off the uniform. I’m just doing the same thing on the street here.”
Voters have until November 6 to turn in their ballots in designated drop-boxes statewide.
The final day to register to vote is Monday.