‘Now is the time’: Constantine’s State of the County address includes call for gun-violence prevention

In his State of the County address today, King County Executive Dow Constantine included a call for “strategies” to prevent gun violence, pointing out that gun-related deaths outnumber motor-vehicle deaths in the county. Here’s the official news release:

King County Executive Dow Constantine today signed an executive order directing Public Health – Seattle & King County to develop innovative, data-driven local strategies for preventing gun violence in King County.

“Gun violence is a public safety crisis. It is also a public health crisis. Locally, we can approach gun violence as a preventable public health problem,” said Executive Constantine, as part of his 2013 State of the County address. “State and federal law pre-empt our ability to regulate firearms, but that should not stop us from thinking innovatively about what we can do within our own authority.”

More than 31,000 people in the U.S. are killed by gun violence each year. In King County, the death toll from guns is more than 125 people a year. More people in King County die from gun violence than motor vehicle crashes.

The executive order directs Public Health – Seattle & King County to gather data that can develop strategies for preventing gun violence, starting with three key questions:

Who is being harmed by guns? Public Health will institute a quarterly Youth Shooting Review, modeled after the existing Child Death Review, to look for patterns in how guns are used by and against children. Public Health will work with the criminal justice system, human services organizations, schools and families to conduct a systematic review of the circumstances and develop community interventions that can prevent further tragedies.

· Demographically, who owns guns and how do they use and handle them? Public Health will collect information on guns used in gun injuries and deaths to develop sensible policies based on what’s really happening in our community. The department will add questions to its existing anonymous surveys regarding gun ownership and storage, to develop a better understanding of how to promote responsible gun ownership and gun usage.

Who sells guns and what can sellers do to encourage responsible gun ownership? Public Health will work with sellers and retailers to develop strategies to encourage safe storage of firearms – for example, working with retailers on how they can display gun safes and trigger locks more prominently in areas where guns are sold, and educate buyers on how they can prevent injury and death.

“We need to better understand how and when firearms are used in acts of violence in order to make the changes necessary to put an end to gun violence in King County,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Based on the data and information gathered under the executive order, the Executive will convene local partners, County Councilmembers, and other elected leaders to develop effective strategies.

“Once we understand the underlying causes of gun violence in King County, we can develop real-world solutions to prevent real-life tragedies,” said Executive Constantine. “Now is the time.”

Other news releases with State of the County toplines can be found here.

5 Replies to "'Now is the time': Constantine's State of the County address includes call for gun-violence prevention"

  • Neighbor February 4, 2013 (6:54 pm)

    When Constantine and McGinn both spend the time and the energy on this issue as they did with the new arena I’ll believe he is doing more than just grandstanding. Until then he’s blowin in the wind.

  • talkischeap February 4, 2013 (11:12 pm)

    How about ‘The United State Constitution pre-empts our ability to regulate firearms.’ The gun fight right now is all about our freedoms which are being hacked away by the minute.

    Maybe getting SPD staffing levels passed the levels they were in the 1970s? That’s a start. Oh and allow them to do their job in getting guns off the street. Many don’t know about the new law passed by the Supreme Court that requires SPD officers to get a search warrant if they find a gun in a car on a traffic stop. That means in the middle of the night if they stop a car and find a gun they have to wake up a judge to sign a search warrant and ultimately impound the car until they have it etc. All this until they can get the gun. Where is they used to be able to do stop, find the gun and get the perp off the street quickly. Doesn’t really seem worth all the effort does it? People who use guns aren’t going to hug it out even if you get rid of the guns. You guys are really just chipping ice off the top of a glacier.

  • kg February 4, 2013 (11:58 pm)

    Thanks for the gun violence prevention coverage.

    Will you be doing any further coverage on the Regional Veterans Initiative?

  • JoAnne February 5, 2013 (9:04 am)

    If Constantine really wanted to do something about gun violence, why doesn’t he support teh efforts of King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg?
    Satterberg has been trying for years now to change the law so that police and prosecutors can detain juvenile gun offenders instead of letting them run free among us.
    Liberals like Constantine oppose these efforts. They LIKE the existing law, which punishes gun possession with probation and a warning–less serious punishment than a traffic ticket.

  • wscommuter February 5, 2013 (10:49 am)

    talkischeap – Your lack of knowledge of the law is even worse than your grammer. You don’t know what you’re talking about (and yes, I do …). There is no such requirement on police for a search warrant when there are exigent circumstances under a felony stop. However – the law has always been – and should be – that when a car is impounded by the police and there is no risk of loss of evidence, that a warrant be obtained before a complete inventory search. And by the way – when it is necessary to get a search warrant in the middle of the night, there is always – 24/7 – a judge available by phone.

    JoAnne – Neither police nor prosecutors have authority to affect the detention of juvenile gun offenders – only the legislature can change that. I am not aware of Mr. Constantine ever opposing a change in the law to do this – if you have information otherwise, please share it. I do know that Mr. Constantine has consistently supported appropriate punishment for gun offenses for both juveniles and adults. When you talk about “gun possession” as a crime, what do you mean? Using a gun in a crime IS a serious offense, even for juveniles. Possessing a gun if one is a convicted felon, even as a juvenile, is still punished by mandatory incarceration and not “probation” as you claim. Please provide details, if I am missing your point.

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