Today, the Senate passed legislation to collect statewide data on firearm violence and fund innovative prevention programs in local communities.
Senate Bill 6288 would establish the first-in-the-nation Washington Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, which would work with law enforcement agencies and others to collect and centralize data on firearm violence, including suicide.
In addition, the office would administer the Washington Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, a competitive process to fund evidence-based initiatives undertaken by cities and community-based organizations in Washington.
“This bill is about understanding where violence occurs in our communities and how we can intervene to address it—and making sure that we are helping victims of violence,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), the bill’s prime sponsor.
The office’s approach is modeled on King County’s Shots Fired project. Every year, 155 King County residents die from gunshots, and another 150 are hospitalized, according to a report from the project presented at a work session of the Senate Law & Justice Committee last fall. This violence also causes lifelong trauma for survivors. The Shots Fired project brings a public health approach to firearm violence, with an emphasis on early intervention and prevention. SB 6288 applies the approach statewide.
“In the Legislature, we have been taking meaningful steps to transform our criminal justice system from a crisis response model to an early intervention and prevention model,” Dhingra said. “This bill is an important addition to that work.”
Having passed the Senate on a vote of 25-23, SB 6288 now moves to the House of Representatives.