Seattle City Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and Chinatown/International District) and King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay (District 2) applaud Olympia lawmakers’ efforts to address gun violence by creating the Washington Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention.
Senate Bill 6288 was passed by the State Senate and House, creating the nation’s first firearm prevention office, pending the Governor’s signature. The office will be tasked with collecting and analyzing data on firearm violence. The office would work with law enforcement agencies, health institutions and others to centralize the data, which could then be used to understand where gun violence is happening in the state, why, and how to prevent it through early intervention programs.
“I want to thank Senator Manka Dhingra who introduced and shepherded this bill. She understands the impact gun violence has had in our communities, particularly my district, where we grieve the lives of young, black and brown boys and girls, whose promising futures are cut short due to gun violence,” Councilmember Morales said. “Having a centralized office, one that uses a data-driven approach to prevent firearm violence, will allow political leaders to create better policies to effectively address gun violence. The bill also creates a grant program, investing in programs which are created by and for communities most impacted by gun violence, programs that have proven time and again to be the very best way to interrupt cycles of violence that terrorize too many of our communities. Along with developing best practices for therapy, firearms safety, and suicide prevention, the duties assigned to the Office are essential to mitigate the devastating effects of gun violence.”
“The most effective responses to gun violence around the country utilize data and resources to empower community-based interruptions to violence,” said King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. “Thanks to the efforts by Sen. Dhingra, the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility and countless others, we will finally have a central place to convene stakeholders, analyze data and ultimately support community outreach coordinators who are working in their neighborhoods to intervene before another life is needlessly taken.”
The office’s approach will be modeled on King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office’s Shots Fired project, which uses a public health approach to stem gun violence. The project found every year, 155 King County residents die from gunshots and another 150 are hospitalized.
Morales and Zahilay have worked collaboratively with community in their districts in South Seattle, which has expressed ongoing concerns around gun violence and public safety, particularly around youths.
Senate Bill 6288 is poised to return to the Senate for concurrence, and to the Governor to sign. Morales and Zahilay said they look forward to Gov. Inslee signing this bill.