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Seattle’s Next Mayor Must Stop the Epidemic of Gun Violence
By Jessyn Farrell
Since the early days of the pandemic, I’ve been in awe of the sacrifices that people across our city have been willing to make to protect each other during a time of crisis. We’ve all lost so much in the last sixteen months, and so many of us are still grieving the absence of a parent, sibling, or close friend. But in reflecting on how our community came together in response to the emergency of COVID-19, I feel anger and sorrow over another epidemic plaguing our community: gun violence.
My anger stems from the grim reality that COVID was not the first epidemic to plague our community; gun violence has ravaged our city for years, but because the tragedy and trauma it inflicts are concentrated in communities of color furthest from the power in City Hall, we treat it as inevitable.
It’s not. We can prevent gun violence, if our leaders approach this like the public health crisis that it is and implement proven trauma-informed solutions to keep hurt people from hurting people.
Our all-hands-on-deck approach that unlocked millions of dollars to fight the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that we could have been doing so much more to disrupt the cycle of violence and create a city with zero shootings. By leading the country in containing COVID-19 and getting people vaccinated, Seattle’s government has shown we can do what seems impossible — if our leaders in City Hall choose to act with the urgency this crisis demands.
However gun violence manifests — suicides, accidental shootings, police violence, domestic violence, or mass shootings — it is preventable. We know what works, we just need the conviction to fund and implement these solutions at the scale required to end this epidemic.
Ending gun violence begins with recognizing that preventing violence requires investing in the cultural, social, and economic supports that help communities thrive. Ensuring everyone in our community has stable housing, access to healthcare, connection to community, and a good paying job is what will create true safety for our city. Fundamentally rearranging power and wealth in our city to dismantle the interlocking systems of oppression, white supremacy, and misogyny won’t be easy, but we can’t achieve a city without gun violence unless we commit ourselves to that goal.
But talk is cheap. A real commitment to ending gun violence requires budgets that reflect the scale of the crisis communities of color have faced for years without sufficient action from City Hall. My administration will create an Office of Violence Prevention to allocate investments in the community-based organizations like Community Passageways that are already doing incredible work to reduce violence, but need many more resources to meet the scale of the need for their services. Critically, this cannot and will not be a top-down approach; decisions on where and how to make these investments will be done in partnership with the people, focused on empowering trauma-informed programs proven to lead to healed communities.
Finally, to truly end the epidemic of shootings in our city, we must be able to enact common-sense gun safety measures. Washington already leads the country in providing legal mechanisms to get guns out of dangerous hands. However, state-level preemption of gun regulations means Seattle is restricted from passing reforms like banning assault weapons, requiring permits to purchase firearms, restrictions on magazine capacity, and efforts to centralize background checks to a single point of sale. That simply cannot continue.
We need a mayor who has the experience navigating Olympia to get Seattle the authority to pass those regulations — or even better, enact them statewide so that our efforts to end gun violence aren’t undermined by lax laws in neighboring jurisdictions. I’ve served in the state legislature, where I led the passage of landmark paid family leave and secured billions of dollars to fund public transit expansion in our region — all while dealing with a Republican-controlled Senate. Now, with Democrats who have campaigned on gun violence prevention in control of every lever of power in Olympia, there’s no excuse for Seattle’s next mayor to not get this done.
In the face of such a persistent threat to our communities, even when the continued lack of progress threatens to replace hope and optimism with exhaustion and despair, we must not give up.
If we all get off the sidelines, we can and will create a Seattle where no one has to live in fear of losing a loved one to gun violence. If elected Mayor, I look forward to working to achieve this vision.
📸 Featured Image courtesy of the canidate.
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