The first step to reducing gun violence is understanding it — and its causes. Lawmakers should support potentially lifesaving research by passing SB 6288.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, would establish a state office to coordinate and promote state and local efforts to reduce firearm violence. The office would work with law enforcement, county prosecutors, researchers and public-health agencies to track gun-related deaths and injuries and identify effective interventions. It would oversee a grant program to advance evidence-based efforts to reduce gun violence and save lives.
This should not be a controversial proposal, freighted with Second Amendment tit-for-tat arguments. Rather, the approach is in alignment with the American College of Surgeons’ recommendations to tackle firearm injury, death and disability as a public-health crisis rather than a divisive political problem. It would yield valuable information to help policymakers and the public find common ground.
Opponents say the bill is driven by gun-control advocates’ political agenda — their concerns mimicking the slippery-slope arguments that helped stifle federally funded gun-violence research for two decades. In fact, more research and greater access to data can help eliminate misguided and ineffective gun-control legislation by helping decision-makers create targeted policies, support violence reduction programs that work and craft legislative proposals based on more than an educated guess.
This is happening on a small scale, through local efforts such as King County’s Shots Fired project, which collects and standardizes data from more than a half-dozen law enforcement agencies to create a clearer picture of the number and types of shooting incidents. Last year, the state awarded a $1 million grant to Harborview Injury and Prevention Research Center to fund gun-violence research. It was the state’s first meaningful investment in this vital inquiry in a decade. Expanding the breadth and scope of inquiry only makes sense.
Lawmakers are considering a number of firearm-related bills this session, including two that would ban high-capacity magazines.
SB 6077, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, and HB 2240, sponsored by Seattle Democrat Rep. Javier Valdez, would restrict firearm ammunition magazines to 10 bullets or less. Nine other states have limited magazine capacity to 15 or, more commonly, 10 rounds.
This is a reasonable restriction that would not interfere with legitimate uses of firearms. Legislators should usher the bills into law.