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King County Board of Health calls for action to address gun violence

Calling it a public health issue that is responsible for more premature deaths than illegal drugs or infant mortality, the King County Board of Health today adopted a resolution calling on lawmakers in Olympia and Washington, D.C. to take action to reduce deaths caused by gun violence.

“We have a moral obligation to curb gun violence. Every jurisdiction must do what is within its power to keep our communities safe,” said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, the chair of the Board of Health.

In the wake of the Café Racer shooting in Seattle last June, as well as the incidents in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Massachusetts where mass shootings occurred, the Board said that it is time for the United States to take “meaningful action” on gun violence.

“Gun related injuries are preventable,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “We know from past public health successes, like seat belt and tobacco use, that gun violence is a fixable public health problem.”

The adopted resolution says gun violence is one of the leading causes of premature death in the U.S., with 31,000 people having been killed in 2010. That number is greater than the number of infants who died during their first year of life (25,000) and individuals who died from illegal drugs (17,000).

From 2007-2011, 625 King County residents were killed by gun violence, with an additional 512 people hospitalized with nonfatal firearm injuries. Of the County gun deaths, 460 were self-inflicted.

The resolution states the Board of Health supports efforts to reduce gun violence as well as mental health programs that stress prevention and early intervention services.  The Board also committed to taking its own actions to reduce harm from firearms.

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