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Racial disparity and gun violence continues to grow in King County

Police spanned a two-block shooting scene in the Central District in May, where witnesses said they heard about 30 shots fired from multiple guns. (KIRO 7, Gary Horcher via Twitter)

New data presented by the King County Prosecutor’s Office and Public Health points to a significant rise in racial disparity as it relates to gun violence.

Total reported crimes in Seattle down in 2019, gun violence still a concern

“Firearm deaths represent a persistent public health issue,” the report noted.

While “gun violence is a problem” isn’t exactly the most groundbreaking realization, the data did draw two significant conclusions: One, that suicide deaths from firearms have consistently occurred three times as often as homicides, and that gun violence inordinately affects people of color.

“The homicide rate was 15 times higher in black than white residents in King County from 2012 to 2016, compared to 7 times higher from 2006 to 2010,” the report reads. In total, almost 77 percent of King County gun violence victims in 2019 have been people of color. Additionally, 85 percent of total victims have been male and almost half have been under the age of 25.

In terms of the most persistent types of gun-related deaths, suicides were by far the most common.

Central District searches for solutions after rash of shootings

Between 2012 and 2016, the report tracked roughly 150 firearm deaths per year in King County, up from around 130 per year between 2006 and 2010. Of those, approximately 106 a year are from suicides, with around 37 from homicides. The bottom line per the report: “Firearm suicides are the most common cause of firearm deaths.”

The communities most affected by gun violence in general are largely in the south end of King County, primarily in North Highline, Burien, and Kent, respectively. The highest rate of firearm suicide rates were identified in Vashon Island and Auburn, both areas that have seen their fair share of opioid problems in the past.

The report was notably light on possible solutions, but did recommend the safe storage of firearms as a means to at least partially address the trends it identified.

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