Washington CeaseFire - the well-known nonprofit that works to reduce gun violence in our state - wants parents to know whether the houses where their kids play have guns in them. Specifically, they want parents to start asking that very question, as uncomfortable as it may be.
That’s the goal of the ASK-Washington campaign, which according to a press release distributed this morning will be launched Wednesday at Cafe Paloma in Pioneer Square. ASK - which stands for Asking Saves Kids - will include a public relations blitz designed to normalize the act of parents asking other parents about guns.
According to Frani Assaf, Washington CeaseFire’s press contact, no interviews on ASK will be given until Wednesday. Back in August, however, Washington CeaseFire President Ralph Fascitelli hinted at such an effort, calling it part of a planned three-pronged approach that also included bus ads and gun-free zones.
While Washington CeaseFire apparently won’t be doing any talking until Wednesday, a letter posted online spells out most of the new effort.
“Our goal is to persuade parents that this conversation—to ensure that their kids play in a gun safe environment—is an essential parental responsibility,” the letter says. “Despite the very real dangers of guns in proximity to children, pro-active dialogue is necessary due to the often delicate nature of any conversation in this country involving guns. Thus, this effort does not interfere with nor infringe upon anyone’s right to legally possess a gun, but normalizes parent responsibility to ask and make an informed decision that where their children play is safe.”
The letter also explains what people can expect:
Our strategy in changing parental behavior is: 1) to highlight those instances where a gun in the home resulted in a tragedy involving a child, and 2) to impress upon parents that ensuring their child’s safety trumps any inconvenience or discomfort in neighbor to neighbor conversation. Central to the ASK program is educating and supporting parents in making the most tactful outreach possible to minimize awkwardness and maintain neighborly relationships.
Tactically, we plan to build awareness across the greater Seattle, tri-county media market with a combined effort including: public relations (press releases, bylines and media outreach); printed educational materials including brochures, buttons and posters; social media, including a dedicated Facebook page and Twitter; digitally, including an informational web page linked to all partners; and, if budget allows, a combination of public service advertising announcements, possibly including billboards, TV and radio.
According to the press release, Wednesday’s press conference will include an appearance by Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess. The ASK campaign is scheduled to run through May 2014. Also according to the release, the ASK-Washington program will be endorsed by Public Health-Seattle & King County.