Narrow Senate vote approves collection of gun violence data

By Cameron Sheppard

WNPA News Service

The Washington Legislature is closer to creating an Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention to collect data on gun violence and suicide following a 25-23 vote in favor of Senate Bill 6288.

The office created by this legislation would be tasked with identifying new ways to collect gun violence data, analyzing and sharing that data, as well as making policy recommendations based on the data collected.

The office would work with law enforcement agencies, county prosecutors, researchers, and public health agencies across the state.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, said the legislation is intended to bring a research-driven and data-based approach to recognizing the impacts of gun violence and suicide.

Dhingra said the legislation is about transforming the state’s criminal justice system from a crisis response model to an early prevention and intervention model.

She said programs such as King County’s Shots Fired project save taxpayers money because it helps to prevent deaths, injuries and incarcerations that burden our societal systems.

“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,” Dhingra said.

Adrian Diaz, Assistant Chief of Collaborative Policing in Seattle, testified to the Senate Law and Justice Committee in support of the bill. Diaz said the legislation would help fill gaps in gun violence data and develop policy solutions to improve community safety.

The bill would also create the Washington Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, which would be managed by the office.

Through the program, grants will be awarded to gun violence prevention initiatives and organizations in disproportionately affected communities in King County.

“Through my violence prevention work in Seattle, I have seen how effective holistic and community-based programs can be in reducing violence,” Diaz said in support of the grant program. “Research on similar programs in cities like Oakland, Milwaukee and New York has found the same to be true.”

Republican senators have raised some issues with the legislation.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said he is concerned the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention could end up being an advocacy group used to push gun regulations and take away gun rights.

“It just bothers me to have another bureaucracy and more tax dollars going to promote a particular viewpoint,” Padden said.

Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said she is concerned that data collected for a database could be misused or targeted.

The bill will now have to pass in the House before it has the chance to be signed into law.

More in News

New coronavirus cases traced to UW outbreak

Jefferson County has two more positive COVID-19 cases, both tied to an… Continue reading

Clallam County Courthouse workers hang bunting on the front of the historic Port Angeles courthouse on Wednesday in honor of Independence Day. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group
Special events to mark amended Fourth of July celebrations

The COVID-19 pandemic has scuttled plans for many July Fourth celebrations across… Continue reading

OMC commissioner questions per diem testing policy

The two Olympic Medical Center employees who tested positive for COVID-19 were… Continue reading

Health officers urge caution on Fourth; Clallam adds two COVID-19 cases

North Olympic Peninsula health officers are urging caution during the Fourth of… Continue reading

Shelter resident, Serenity House employee test positive

Two people at Serenity House of Clallam County tested positive for COVID-19… Continue reading

More COVID-19 cases in Clallam; none new in Jefferson

Four more Clallam County residents have been reported Wednesday as having tested… Continue reading

Early-morning fire damages East Sequim Bay Road home

An early morning fire Wednesday, July 1, has left a 4,000-square-foot home… Continue reading

With 4 new COVID-19 cases, Clallam County to remain in Phase 2

Clallam County will remain in Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening… Continue reading

Clallam’s childcare crunch: Community leaders explore options

Expanding locations, training some of the options discussed

Most Read