OLYMPIA, WA --- “Once again we find ourselves grieving from the loss of innocent lives to a senseless act of gun violence. While mass shootings blare from the headlines across the country, we must recognize that an average of two deaths per day and many more injuries occur from firearms right here in Washington state. Many of these tragic losses of life can be prevented.” Commerce Director Lisa Brown
The Washington State Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, part of the Department of Commerce, is working in partnership with our local communities to reduce gun violence.
“Washington State’s Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention is supporting promising practices in communities throughout the state to intervene and prevent firearm violence using a public health lens,” said Kate Kelly, the office’s Executive Director. She noted incremental progress Washington has made as a state in changing and implementing laws on high-capacity magazine sales, universal background checks, and extreme-risk protection orders.
Kelly pointed to the many firearms deaths and injuries that we don’t hear about through the media, including suicide (75% of firearms-related deaths in Washington) and persistent homicides in some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods across the state. These are the focus of work by the OFSVP and its partners in tackling firearm violence through the programs they are implementing.
“People often feel helpless, but there are things each of us can do today, on a practical level, to make a difference,” Kelly said.
She pointed to helping prevent suicides in our communities or families by spreading the word about suicide prevention resources, supporting gun responsibility organizations and efforts, or implementing safe firearms practices in our own homes, such as King County’s Lock it Up program promoting safe storage.
The Washington Legislature established the state’s Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention (OFSVP) in the Department of Commerce’s Community Services Division in 2020 to lead statewide efforts to implement evidence-based policies, strategies and interventions in communities with a goal of better understanding and reducing firearm violence. The office works hand-in-hand with policymakers, public health officials, government entities, law enforcement agencies, researchers, community organizations and individual community members. Partnering with the University of Washington Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program, they compiled an inventory and descriptions of existing sources of Washington firearms-related data.