King County
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, serving West Seattle and North Highline.

KC Councilmember McDermott adopts resolution on gun violence, mental health

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott (serving West Seattle and North Highline), who also chairs the King County Board of Health, adopted a resolution on Jan. 17 calling on state and federal lawmakers “to take action to reduce deaths caused by gun violence.”

“We have a moral obligation to curb gun violence. Every jurisdiction must do what is within its power to keep our communities safe,” McDermott said of the Board of Health resolution.

McDermott cited the aftermath of high-profile mass shootings in Colorado and Massachusetts last year - along with the Café Racer shooting in Seattle - as signs that our state and nation need to take “meaningful action” in reducing gun violence.

The resolution is more declarative than specific at this time, proclaiming support for “efforts to reduce gun violence as well as mental health programs that stress prevention and early intervention services,” although the Board said they will take their “own actions to reduce harm from firearms.”

“Gun related injuries are preventable,” Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement. “We know from past public health successes, like seat belt and tobacco use, that gun violence is a fixable public health problem.”

Public Health wrote that gun violence is responsible for more premature deaths than illegal drugs or infant mortality, adding:

“The adopted resolution says gun violence is one of the leading causes of premature death in the U.S., with 31,000 people having been killed in 2010. That number is greater than the number of infants who died during their first year of life (25,000) and individuals who died from illegal drugs (17,000).

“From 2007-2011, 625 King County residents were killed by gun violence, with an additional 512 people hospitalized with nonfatal firearm injuries. Of the County gun deaths, 460 were self-inflicted.”

The announcement came one day after President Obama held a press conference laying out 23 executive orders to curb gun violence he will sign and bring to Congress, including initiatives to make background checks universal (putting an end to the gun show and private seller loopholes), banning assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition clips, strengthening gun tracking systems, adding additional funding for police and mental health counseling/needs, and funding research on gun violence and violent media affects on our nation’s minds.

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