As the Washington legislature returns to Olympia for the start of the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers will again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills. Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the new year as the pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence and after a year of increased gun sales, an uptick of police violence, increased risk of suicide and domestic violence, and an increase in city gun violence. In 2021, King County gun violence surpassed 2020 totals in October, with more than a 50% increase of gun violence in the county over the average from the previous four years according to KING5 News.
This past legislative session, lawmakers in Washington passed a slate of life-saving bills to address police violence and city gun violence, including increased investment in violence intervention programs. This year, lawmakers should protect Washington residents by supporting gun safety bills that would reduce gun deaths and save lives, starting with first of its kind legislation to require schools to send home information about secure firearm storage. They should also take action to end qualified immunity, regulate ghost guns, prohibit guns in local meetings, and increase their investment in violence intervention groups.
The House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee will hear legislation to eliminate qualified immunity on Tuesday, and legislation to regulate ghost guns and prohibit guns in local meetings on Wednesday.
What to know about gun violence in Washington:
- In Washington, on average, 781 people are shot and killed with a gun every year, and 821 people more are wounded. In the last decade, gun violence has increased 20% in the state.
- Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in Washington. In an average year, 61 children and teens die by gun in Washington, and 44% of these deaths are homicides. Black children and teens are twice as likely as their white peers to die by guns.
- Gun violence costs Washington $5.3 billion each year, of which $169.3 million is paid by taxpayers.
If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Washington Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.