The city of Seattle is taking small but worthy steps to address gun violence.
ANOTHER mass shooting Thursday, this time in Roseburg, Ore., once again forces the nation to look at the scourge of gun violence.
The shooting at Umpqua Community College has claimed the lives of nine victims as of Friday. The alleged assailant also died. This comes almost a year since four victims were killed by a classmate at Marysville-Pilchuck High School and 16 months after a shooting at Seattle Pacific University that left one dead.
While these shootings are emotional bombshells, everyday gun violence is claiming too many lives, as well. From January to September, shootings in Seattle have topped 300 — up almost 30 percent from the same period last year.
The challenges the city faces are complex. But some progress is being made. Washington voters last year approved Initiative 594, which expanded background checks to almost all gun sales and transfers.
On Monday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murraymade another good move, proposing the city spend $275,000 on a pilot prevention project at Harborview Medical Center. That money would complement a $500,000 U.S. Department of Justice grantto address gun violence throughout the Puget Sound region.
The City Council should ensure the mayor’s budget request survives intact. The funding would provide case workers at Harborview to assist victims of firearms injuriesafter they’re released.
Their first few months out of the hospital are critical because these patients are 30 times more likely to show up again at the hospital with gun wounds compared to patients with everyday medical problems, according to a 2014 city-commissioned study performed by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.
A similar intervention program for Harborview patients admitted for alcohol-related problems reduced by half the number of re-injury rates within that group.
In addition, under the leadership of Councilmember Tim Burgess, the council passed a gun violence tax in August. Starting Jan. 1, the tax would collect $25 on the sale of every firearm and 2 cents to 5 cents per round of ammunition sold within the city.
But gun-rights groups, who refuse to acknowledge the public-health risk of guns falling into the wrong hands, have sued the city over the tax. Nevermind the fact that taxpayers paid an estimated $12 million last year for gunshot victims treated at Harborview.
Even if the legal challenge should prove successful, the city should continue funding gun-data analysis and prevention.
Murray’s budget proposal is a good way to continue this vital work. The relatively small investment could yield big returns through cost savings and lives spared.