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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Justice Department promotes King County’s campaign to reduce gun violence

Summary

The U.S. Department of Justice is paying for billboards and Sound Transit bus ads to promote King County’s safe firearm storage campaign to prevent guns from being used to commit crimes. The campaign is part of Executive Constantine’s prevention-oriented approach to reducing gun violence in the region.

Story

King County’s gun-violence prevention program got a boost this month from billboards and Sound Transit bus ads paid for by the U.S. Department of Justice. The $30,000 campaign encourages residents to safely store their guns to prevent them from being used to commit crimes.

A 2005 study found that safe storage reduces firearm suicides by 78 percent and unintentional shootings by 85 percent. King County’s LOK-IT-UP campaign is a partnership with Harborview, Seattle Children’s, Washington State Department of Health, and multiple law enforcement agencies and gun retailers working together to promote safe firearm storage.

“A public-health approach to reducing gun violence relies heavily on awareness and education,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Thanks to this investment by the Justice Department, more people in our region are aware of our effective violence-reduction program.”

The Justice Department is helping promote King County’s program, called LOK-IT-UP, as part of a strategy to prevent guns being stolen and used by criminals.

“We need the public’s help to keep their firearms from becoming crime guns,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Too often we see criminals using stolen firearms to commit drive by shootings, domestic assaults, and even murders. Through the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is pleased to partner with King County in this media campaign to urge gun owners to practice safe, locked storage of their guns. A locked gun safe can create one more hurdle for those who want to steal, sell and use stolen guns for criminal purposes.”

Just over half of the adults in Washington state who own firearms — nearly 1 million residents — store their guns unlocked. About 200,000 children in the state live in homes with unrestricted access to guns.

The safe storage campaign is part of Executive Constantine's broader public-health approach to preventing gun violence, which kills more people in King County than car crashes. The strategy includes helping local hospitals, law enforcement, medical examiners and researchers share data on gun-related injuries and fatalities to better identify the specific risks and needs in the community.

Local law enforcement supports King County’s prevention campaign

“I encourage all gun owners to take an extra moment to practice safe gun storage,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “A little time can go a long way to prevent gun theft or other potentially tragic misuse.”

“Many guns used by criminals were stolen from law-abiding folks who didn’t lock up their firearms,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “Don’t let that happen to you! Secure your guns, so they don’t get stolen.”

About 70 percent of gun-related deaths in King County are suicides.

“As a community, we can make a difference in eliminating tragedies caused by gun violence,” said Tony Gomez, Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program Manager. “Responsible, safe storage prevents gun access by kids and teens, including those at risk of suicide.


Relevant links


Quotes

A public-health approach to reducing gun violence relies heavily on awareness and education. Thanks to this investment by the Justice Department, more people in our region are aware of our effective violence-reduction program.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

I encourage all gun owners to take an extra moment to practice safe gun storage. A little time can go a long way to prevent gun theft or other potentially tragic misused.

Kathleen O'Toole, Chief of Seattle Police Department

Many guns used by criminals were stolen from law-abiding folks who didn’t lock up their firearms. Don’t let that happen to you. Secure your guns, so they don’t get stolen.

John Urquhart, King Count Sheriff

As a community, we can make a difference in eliminating tragedies caused by gun violence. Responsible, safe storage prevents gun access by kids and teens, including those at risk of suicide.

Tony Gomez, Violence and Injury Prevention Program Manager, Public Health – Seattle & King County

For more information, contact:
Lindsay Bosslet, Public Health – Seattle & King County, 206-263-2038
King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

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