Council Acts on Gun Safety

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Harborview Medical CenterThe City Council demonstrated leadership on gun safety today when my committee voted to fund a new public health gun safety package. 

According to previous news reports, the City of Seattle would be the first in the nation to provide direct funding for basic research into the causes and effects of gun violence.

Partnering with the University of Washington’s Harborview Medical Center and public health agencies, the $370,500 proposal will spur long-stalled research on gun violence and enhance the City and County’s response to mental health crises resulting from tragedies.

While our leaders in Olympia and Washington, D.C. failed to enact gun safety legislation this year, Seattle is demonstrating its leadership by taking positive action today. The people of Seattle overwhelmingly support doing everything we can to increase gun safety. This funding will jump-start research blocked by the National Rifle Association and build the same emergency response system used by the Red Cross.

The public health gun safety package includes two additions to the Mayor’s 1st Quarter Supplemental budget detailed below.

Public Health Gun Safety Research ($153,000)

The proposed study will evaluate the interrelationships between substance abuse, mental health diagnoses, gun ownership, injury admissions and deaths.

The results will provide researchers and medical professionals with the information they need to improve outreach and counseling to prevent injuries from firearms, particularly among vulnerable populations.

Enhanced Mental Health Emergency Management and Response ($217,500)

The initiative includes a state-of-the-art emergency management, response and triage system for mental health crises that has been used by public health teams in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, by the American Red Cross for natural disasters (the Joplin and Alabama tornadoes in 2011), by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during Superstorm Sandy and by Los Angeles County. The funding will enable Seattle-King County Public Health to administer the purchase and installation of this emergency management and response program.

The Committee will vote on the entire first quarter supplemental budget legislation as early as May 15. A vote by the Full Council would then take place the Monday following the committee vote.