Standing up to fear, hate, and violence
This weekend our nation once again witnessed the senseless loss of life in two mass shootings, this time in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
These cities join the heartbreakingly long list of places whose residents have endured unthinkable violence, whose families have suffered unbearable losses; our nation’s leaders stand idly by while the epidemic of gun violence affects more and more communities.
This is a difficult period in our nation’s history, one where words of fear and hate are being used to divide us. There are consequences to hateful rhetoric. Creating and stoking a fear of “others” – people of another race, religion, country of origin, or sexual orientation – has consequences. And as we saw again this weekend, fear and hate, combined with military-grade weapons in the hands of disturbed individuals, can quickly turn into unspeakable tragedy.
We need to act to stem the scourge of gun violence. State and federal law pre-empt our ability to regulate firearms, but we are doing what we can within our own authority to reduce gun deaths. One very important area of work has been increasing the safe storage of firearms. Public Health – Seattle & King County has found that almost half of local gun owners have at least one unlocked firearm. This puts families, schools, and communities at risk; unlocked firearms are more likely to be stolen and used in a crime, and adolescents with access to firearms are nearly three times as likely to die by suicide.
When we witness tragic events like those in El Paso and Dayton, it is important that we support one another. If you would like to speak with someone, King County provides two free services to employees that offer professional support and advice: the Employee Assistance Program and Making Life Easier. Both resources are free and confidential.
There is no place for hate in King County. We are a place that welcomes, not one that divides, a welcoming community where every person has the opportunity to thrive.
Thank you for everything you do for the people of King County.
King County Executive