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Victory for Gun Safety: Washington Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Applaud Governor Jay Inslee for Prioritizing and Signing Violence Intervention and Prevention Legislation Into Law

The Signing is the Latest Example of Washington Leading the Nation on Gun Violence Prevention

In 2018, Washington Enacted Legislation that Raised the Age to Purchase Semi-Automatic Rifles and Enhanced Background Checks for Semi-Automatic Rifle Purchasers

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today applauded Governor Jay Inslee for signing Senate Bill 6288, legislation to establish the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention into law. The Office of Firearm Violence Prevention will promote effective state and local efforts to reduce preventable injuries and deaths from daily gun violence in Washington.

“For years, Washington has been a leader in the gun violence prevention movement, and today, Gov. Inslee and the legislature took another step forward to stop daily gun violence,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Let this be an example for other states — we cannot end our gun violence crisis without passing legislation that directly addresses daily gun violence.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has been a grim reminder that addressing public health crises takes all of us. This session, lawmakers made clear once again that like Washingtonians across the state, they know we can do more to reduce gun violence,” said Nancy Dombrowski, a volunteer with the Washington chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Even amid the pandemic, community gun violence prevention organizations are working to prevent shootings in communities disproportionately affected by gun violence, and this law will help ensure they have more resources and more support from the state as they continue this critical work.”

“We have a moral obligation to address gun violence in all its forms, and our state lawmakers are again taking action,” said Keaton Dickinson, a volunteer with West Seattle High School Students Demand Action. “This is a big win for people living in communities that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence.” 

There are nearly 14,000 gun homicides in the U.S. every year. In 2015, over a quarter of these gun homicides occurred in neighborhoods containing less than two percent of the country’s population. In Washington, an average of 753 people are killed every year by gun violence, with the rate of gun deaths increasing by 13 percent from 2009 to 2018. While Washington is a national leader in gun violence prevention, the state has not historically prioritized local violence intervention and prevention programs aimed at reducing interpersonal gun violence. Establishing the Washington Office of Firearm Violence Prevention allows the state to support several effective gun violence reduction initiatives and create a case study for funding throughout the state.
 
Community violence intervention programs have already been successful in helping reduce daily gun violence in California, New York, and Massachusetts, as states have worked to localize approaches to addressing gun violence in some of their cities’ hardest-hit neighborhoods. In California, since launching Ceasefire in 2012, Oakland has seen a remarkable 50 percent decline in homicides, and Richmond has seen the number of murders decline by more than 50 percent in the years after the adoption of Operation Peacemaker compared with the years before its adoption. The substantial investment in local violence reduction strategies has contributed to a reduction in gun homicides in Massachusetts and New York. Currently, the gun homicide rates in Massachusetts and New York are three and two times lower than California, respectively. 

In January, hundreds of Washington Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers visited the Capitol to advocate for SB 6288 during their annual advocacy day. Volunteers representing 43 of the state’s 49 districts held more than 85 meetings with legislators urging them to focus on common-sense solutions to keep Washingtonians safe in their communities.

Statistics about gun violence in Washington are available here, and information on how Washington’s gun laws compared to other states overall is available here