Washington’s public health approach to confronting America’s epidemic of gun violence is saving lives
America’s ongoing epidemic of gun violence has in recent years spurred “a sea-change in Washington’s gun laws,” as The Seattle Times wrote in a 2022 editorial. Washington’s voters led the way by passing I-1639 in 2018, the most comprehensive gun control legislation in state history. At one fell swoop, Washington became one of the top 10 states in terms of gun responsibility laws, according to the Giffords Law Center. In the years since then, Washington has enacted more policies to prevent gun violence, including bans on bump stocks and high capacity magazines, tools that essentially turn a semiautomatic weapon into a machine gun. Washington’s strategy, though, extends beyond prohibiting the gun-modification devices mass shooters and criminals have used to devastating effect.
Over the last five years, Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration has borrowed from the field of public health to implement a new, ongoing approach to prevent gun violence in Washington. This new framework encourages data-sharing across city and county lines, along with a more nuanced process of analyzing data sets to tailor violence prevention and intervention strategies to specific cities and communities.
The statistics broadly show that Washington’s work to counteract the epidemic of gun violence has been effective. From 2018 to 2021, while the number of deaths by firearm nationwide increased substantially, rates in Washington did not mirror that trend. Firearm deaths in Washington remain well below national averages. Even so, gun violence continues to claim the lives of Washingtonians every day, which is why Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and legislators are proposing additional firearm safety measures for this year’s legislative session.
Read the full story on Gov. Jay Inslee's Medium here.