Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine today convened a leadership summit of 75 public health and safety experts to share data on injuries and death related to firearm use, and to develop data-driven strategies and actions that can prevent future firearm-related violence.
“Local jurisdictions must lead the way,” said Murray. “We’ve convened today’s summit to tackle firearm violence with the same data-driven decision-making we use to address other major challenges.”
“Gun violence is a public safety crisis, but it is also a public health crisis,” said Executive Constantine. “We can approach it as a preventable public health problem – and attack it through the kind of proven public health strategies that have reduced deaths from smoking, from auto accidents, and from sudden infant death syndrome. Today we are taking local action to confront this national epidemic.”
The long-planned Firearm Violence Prevention Leadership Summit stems from a February 2013 directive from Executive Constantine to Public Health – Seattle & King County, calling for development of innovative, data-driven local strategies for preventing gun violence in King County. In the time since the signing of that Executive Order, 255 firearm deaths have occurred in King County: 180 by suicide, 78 by homicide, and two by unintended means. The public health and safety experts at the summit include representatives from Public Health, law enforcement, the University of Washington, prosecutors, public defenders, hospitals, suicide prevention, and others.
Today’s meeting brings together agency leaders to create a common understanding of existing data on firearm violence in King County, so they can commit to data-driven strategies and actions. Among the data points presented at today’s summit:
- More than 125 people each year die in King County as a result of firearm use, meaning more people in King County are killed by gun violence than by car crashes.
- An estimated 26,500 households in King County store at least one firearm that is unlocked and loaded.
- Fourteen percent of high school students in King County say it would be easy for them to get a handgun if they wanted.
- From 1999 to 2012, 68 children were lost to gun violence in King County – two-thirds were murdered, and one-third died by their own hand because they could get hold of a firearm.
More related data can be found on Public Health’s website. Follow-up information will be released Thursday with details on strategies and actions recommended at the end of the day by summit participants.