Story, Photos & Video by Scott Schaefer
The day after President Obama made an emotional speech on gun control, Gov. Jay Inslee came to Burien’s Navos Mental Health facility where he announced his own new Executive Order (download PDF file here) aimed at reducingÂ and preventing gun-related fatalities and injuries.
Inslee spoke at Revelle Hall on the Navos campus located at 1210 SW 136th Street just after Noon on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Here are some of the more interesting gun-related facts from Wednesday’s event:
- 79% of all firearm deaths in the state are suicides
- Burien has one of the highest rates of firearm fatalities in the Puget Sound region, with more than 11.0 per 100,000 residents
- More people died from firearms injuries thanÂ automobile accidents â€“ 665 compared to 497 deaths
After being introduced by Navos CEO David Johnson, Inslee spoke for a little over 12 minutes about the new initiative to a room packed with media, local dignitaries, mental health workers and concerned citizens:
EDITOR’S NOTE: If the video above is not yet viewable, wait a few minutes and refresh your browser…thanks!
Here’s a brief interview with Navos CEO David M. Johnson:
Inslee’s announcement comes on the heels of renewed efforts by President Obama to stop gun violence, which he announced in an emotional speech on Tuesday. Obama’s announcement new executive actionsÂ was regarding background checks, mental health, enforcement, and more.
The governorÂ was joined by Dr. Jennifer Stuber, an associate professor at the UW School of Social Work,Â Dr. Monica S. Vavilala, Director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, King County Sheriff John Urquhart and several others.
The executive order uses the same data-driven approach that has significantly reduced motor vehicle deaths over the past two decades, according to a statement. Inslee said that theÂ initiative will help the state understand the people and places most at risk of gun violence or suicide, determine the best approaches to reducing gun violence and work with its partners toÂ develop strategies and actions to prevent gun violence.
“This will be a data-driven approach that helps us identify the people and places most susceptible to gun crime and suicide,”Inslee said. “Gun crime is a scourge that has scarred thousands of families in every corner of our state. Itâ€™s a scourge we can, should and will help prevent.”
Between 2012 and 2014, 665 people died in Washington state from firearm injuries, compared to 497 deaths from automobile accidents. Approximately 80 percent of the firearm deaths were suicides.
Burien has one of the highest rates of firearm fatalities in the Puget Sound region, with more than 11.0 per 100,000 residents.
Inslee emphasized the importance of state and local action, since Congress has failed repeatedly to take even the most modest of steps.
“I’ve watched Congress fail for years to make any kind of progress on this issue,â€ Inslee said. â€œCongress has passed laws prohibiting even basic research and data collection on gun violence in America. Yet, while Congress protects the status quo of everyday gun violence, cities, counties and states are moving forward with sensible policies to reduce firearm fatalities. As long as Iâ€™m governor, Washington will be one of those states that says â€˜enough is enough.”
Inslee credited King County Executive Dow Constantine for launchingÂ a similar initiative in King County.Â County public health leaders voiced their support for Insleeâ€™s executive action.
“To address the unacceptably high number of people affected by gun violenceâ€”with more deaths in Washington state and Spokane County attributed to firearms than motor vehicle crashesâ€”as with any significant threat to the publicâ€™s health, we need a comprehensive approach,”aid Dr. Joel McCullough, Spokane Regional Health District’s health officer. “We need to track the threat, find its root causes, use the science to find gaps, offer public education, and perhaps most paramount, create public policy solutions to address the threat.”
Inslee’s order requires the Department of Health and the Department of Social and Health Services, in collaboration with the University of Washington and other state and local agencies to collect, review and disseminate data on deaths and injury hospitalizations related to firearms, as well as recommend strategies to reduce firearm-related fatalities and serious injuries.
Inslee said he also wants to further strengthen the background check law approved by Washingtonians in 2014. He is directing the state Office of Financial Management to analyze the effectiveness of information sharing between state agencies, the courts, local jurisdictions, law enforcement and other entities to determine if there are ways to improve the effectiveness of the system. He is also requesting the Attorney Generalâ€™s office to analyze current enforcement practices to make sure those attempting to purchase a firearm illegally are held accountable.
He is also asking them to update a 2007 white paper regarding access to firearms for those with mental illness. The white paper included recommendations that have yet to be implemented such as a centralized background check system.
Inslee is directing agencies to submit recommendations by October of 2016.
Inslee is also directing the Department of Health to implement theÂ Statewide Suicide Prevention Plan, in collaboration with the Governorâ€™s Health Leadership team, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Governorâ€™s Office of Indian Affairs, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and other partners. Current data indicates that Indian Americans, Alaska Natives and veterans are among the highest-risk groups for suicide.
“The problem of gun violence in our community and only be solved by the coordinated efforts of groups that are willing to work together toward this common goal,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “I am very pleased to see Governor Inslee taking a leadership role to help make this happen.”
“We know we can reduce gun violence and we have a moral and ethical obligation to do so. President Obama’s actions are important steps forward Â to address the root causes of this scourge by improving data sharing, more effectively implementing current law, and advancing gun safety technology. His new actions follow the will of Washington citizens who, in 2014, also recognized the need for a cohesive background check system. Background checks help ensure that people who, by law, should not have firearms do not. They make our state and our nation a safer place. We must continue to examine our systems and laws to make sure theyâ€™re effective and I applaud the Presidentâ€™s efforts to do this at the federal level.
“I am also heartened by the Presidentâ€™s proposal to invest more in mental health care like we have done here in Washington state. While we still struggle to fund the comprehensive behavioral health care system we need, like the rest of the nation, we know first-hand the importance of services for those in crisis to combat suicide and violence against others.”
Here’s President Obama’s emotional speech on gun control that he gave on Tuesday, Jan. 5: