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As gun violence is declared a public health crisis, it’s past time to act, what has been painfully obvious for far too long

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As gun violence is declared a public health crisis, it’s past time to act, what has been painfully obvious for far too long

 

Last week the U.S. surgeon general finally said what has been painfully obvious for far too long: gun violence is a public health crisis. I spend a lot of time thinking about gun violence, a large part because it literally hits so close to home.

 

As gun violence is declared a public health crisis, it’s past time to act, what has been painfully obvious for far too long

In the past month, me, my sister and two of my best friends have all had shootings outside each of our houses. Despite dozens of rounds fired in all those shootings, somehow only three people were injured that I know of, including one child last week, but many, many more were terrified and surely traumatized. In one of the shootings by my sister’s house in Greenwood, police found 30 shell casings. Gunfire was sprayed by multiple people, hitting numerous houses and cars. It was a miracle no one was apparently hit.

As I was working on this column last week, a 14-year-old boy was killed in a shooting Thursday just 1 mile from my house. KING 5 reported it was the sixth Seattle shooting over the past week. And at my alma mater, Garfield High School, 17-year-old Amarr Murphy-Paine was tragically shot and killed on June 6 while reportedly trying to break up a fight on campus.

The Garfield shooting has sparked much debate and soul searching about what needs to be done to address seemingly never ending gun violence, and in particular, its impact on youth. For a child to be killed in a place where he should expect care and safety is unconscionable — and as adults, we all bear some responsibility.

I attended a community public safety meeting at Garfield last week hosted by the grassroots group CDPSA, or Central District Public Safety Accountability, and heard a lot of thoughtful and informed ideas on how to tackle some of the long-term, root causes of youth gun violence.

Speakers mentioned the need to provide young people greater access to mental health care providers and better links to career opportunities such as the trades, as well as deeper, sustained investments in community-based violence interventions. Others talked about the need for greater social and economic support for parents and guardians. All of these approaches should receive meaningful investment and exploration.

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