Gun violence is more responsible for premature deaths in the U.S. than illegal drugs or infant mortality, the King County Board of Health announced today, while passing a resolution calling for state and national lawmakers to address the public health crisis.
“We have a moral obligation to curb gun violence. Every jurisdiction must do what is within its power to keep our communities safe,” Metropolitan King County Council member Joe McDermott, the chair of the Board of Health, said in a press release. The 11-member board consists of three health professionals and eight elected officials from the Seattle and King County councils. However, it's unclear how much political sway, if any, a resolution from Washington's liberal armpit will have in Olympia's Republican-controlled senate.
Still, it makes for compelling copy: For example, 625 King County residents were killed by gun violence between 2007 and 2011, while another 512 people were hospitalized with nonfatal firearm injuries. Of the countywide gun deaths, 460 were self-inflicted.
“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 also says with 31,000 people were killed by gun violence in 2010, making it one of the leading causes of premature death in the U.S. By contrast, only 25,000 infants died that year and only 17,000 people died from drug use.
This resolution comes in the wake of the Newton school shooting, the Aurora theater shooting, and grisly public shootings in Seattle, Portland, Orlando, Phoenix, and New York City over the past year (not to mention the every day acts of gun violence that barely crack the news cycle).