Gun violence will touch us all
Gun violence will touch us all
KCMS president Responds to the news

I Knew a Victim of the Tulsa Shooting

Risk Is Where We All Stand

Special to The Times 06.06.2022

There is a saying, “Risk is where you stand.”
I suppose it means that when somebody may consider a situation or a proposal “risky,” somebody else thinks that same situation or proposal is tolerable or OK. When it comes to death by firearms in the United States, it is appallingly apparent that in 2022 an ordinary person minding their own business risks death or permanent injury by standing in the supermarket, the elementary school, the medical clinic, the graduation ceremony, and the cemetery.
In previous years it has also been risky to be at a yoga studio, a sidewalk cafe, an outdoor music festival, an indoor concert, a movie theater, a workplace, a post office, or many other types of schools, stores, religious services, and parties. It is also risky to walk or drive down the road. 
How much risk can we stand? When it seems like every day there is a new report of a mass-casualty event caused by intentional firearm violence — we can’t help but think that one day, gun violence will end the life of someone we know.  
Last Wednesday, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, multiple news reports document that a disgruntled patient purchased an assault rifle and, on the same day, murdered four people, including the doctor who operated on him on May 19. The patient turned killer’s alleged complaint was that he was still in pain two weeks after his spine surgery.
Dr. Preston Phillips used to live in Seattle, where he continued his distinguished career after graduating from Harvard Medical School with awards and accolades and then completing residency at Yale and fellowships at Beth Israel and Boston Children’s in orthopedic surgery. He also earned advanced degrees in both organic chemistry and divinity. He was a member of a large orthopedic group located on the top floor of the Heath Building at 801 Broadway. He served as president of his professional association and was a member of the King County Medical Society.
I knew Dr. Phillips because my office was also in the same building. I would see him on the elevator and had referred patients to him for consultation. His education, skills, and demeanor were impeccable. A steadfast and thoughtful surgeon, he died serving patients. Another physician, Dr. Stephanie Husen, clinic receptionist Amanda Glenn and patient William Love also died. I knew Dr. Phillips, and I know no one deserves to die because of firearm violence. 
Taking a stand is taking a risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Firearm injuries are a serious public health problem. In 2020, there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the United States — that is about 124 people dying from a firearm-related injury each day.”
According to the CDC, in 2020, firearms became the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers. These deaths were preventable. The United States needs to enact common-sense firearm legislation, including banning assault weapons, strengthening background checks, and encouraging safe firearm storage, to stop the suicides, the homicides, and the massacres. 
Is taking a stand against firearm violence worth dying for? No — we take a stand against firearm violence to live! Because if we don’t take a stand against firearm violence, then it really won’t matter where we stand at all.
Michelle Terry, MD is a pediatrician in Seattle and the King County Medical Society president.
The Seattle Times Opinion Piece

Approaching the Gun Crisis 

Summary of The Atlantic interview w/ Megan Ranney, MD        
by Nancy L. Belcher, Ph.D., MPA, CEO of KCMS

Firearm Injury and death prevention must include both policy & public health solutions.

Guns kill tens of thousands of people in the United States each year. No sooner do we start drafting policies to address laws that could reduce firearm-related deaths and injuries than we have another 'incident.' Mass shootings make up only a fraction of firearm deaths, but they do stoke the national debates.

These dialogues may feel futile, but we can make a difference in combination with firearm policy changes and public-health strategies. I recently read an interview with Dr. Megan Ranney that explained how the combination of policy and public health strategies could positively impact firearm safety. I want to share some of Dr. Ranney's wisdom. Dr. Ranney provided examples of how we can learn from the past to approach firearm safety effectively.
1) Car crash deaths have decreased by about 70 percent since the 1970s— but not because we banned cars. Cars and drivers were made safer. Additionally, car seats were developed, and parents were taught how to use them. This is an example of how a combination of education, engineering, and policy can be used to decrease injury and death.

2) There was an all-or-nothing attitude during COVID, and this approach "hurts our ability in the U.S. to get COVID under control. The same is true for firearms. Anyone who thinks that we will get rid of firearms in this country is not living in the United States that I live in" explains Dr. Ranney.

While infectious diseases are pathogens, "they are also about the people who ferry them from place to place, the tools we use to hamper their spread, and the preventive behaviors communities are and are not willing to take. They spread fast and disproportionately affect certain people, but they can be stopped before they spiral out of control ... We can learn from the mistakes made with the Covid containment and vaccine efforts and transfer that knowledge to firearm safety, and identify what causes people to get to the point where they pick up a gun intending to harm themselves or others."

Pathologist Katelyn Jetelina, Ph.D., acknowledges that many of us know the swiss cheese approach for COVID-19 and she believes the same model can be applied to gun violence (adapted by Dr. Jetalina in the figure below). The swiss cheese theme portrays that while no solution is perfect, we can find success if we add enough layers to slow down or eventually block the opportunity for the disease (firearm deaths). 

3) Policies are critical to public health, "but they are only as effective as the community norms in which those policies are passed. An example: Safe storage is one of the most important things that we can do to reduce the risk of firearm suicide and homicide. We need to work with communities to create solutions that creep forward progress - toward harm reduction."

4) For more than 20 years, "there was no federal funding for firearm-injury-prevention research. As a result, the evidence behind how to stop firearm injuries before they happen stalled. We're basically in the same place that we were in the 1990s. Imagine if that were true for heart disease or for HIV. That would be unacceptable... We've finally restarted firearm-injury-prevention research. There's no way that we're going to make sustained, real change without investing in collecting the data."

Dr. Ranney and Dr. Jetelina have provided clear examples of how we can make progress on even the most divisive issues. It takes time and hard work, but it is possible.
The Atlantic Interview With Dr. Ranney

WA state firearm legislation that was passed and signed by the Governor in 2022

  • 10-ROUND MAGAZINE BAN - Senate Bill 5078 bans the manufacture, sale, transfer, and importation of magazines that are capable of holding 10 or more rounds of ammunitionThis includes conversion kits or parts from which any such magazine may be assembled.  These high-capacity magazines include the Glock 19 which was the most commonly purchased firearm of 2021 and has a standard-issue magazine that holds 15 rounds of ammunition.  A violation of this measure is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Effective date: 07.01.2022
  • “GHOST GUNS” BAN - House Bill 1705 further restricts the manufacturing of firearms by imposing requirements that exceed those in federal law.  It prohibits private individuals from possessing certain unregulated components to make their own firearms, and from possessing firearms that don’t have serial numbers. This bill makes built firearms retroactively illegal if built after 2019. Effective date: 07.01.2022
  • BAN FIREARMS FROM ELECTION-RELATED PLACES, SCHOOL BOARD, AND MUNICIPAL MEETINGS - House Bill 1630 prohibits open carry at school board meetings, municipal meetings, and election-related places.  Further, HB 1630 bans all firearms at ballot counting centers. Effective date: 06.09.2022
*See detailed firearm legislative reports below.
Detailed Legislative Reports - Firearms : 2021-22

Interested in Working on Legislation?


The 2022 Virtual Delegate Council Meetings*
  • Wed, June 22nd, 6 - 8 p.m. (virtual)
  • Wed, Aug 31st, 6 - 8 p.m. (in person)
  • WSMA 2022 Annual Meeting, October 1st & 2nd, 2022
*No requirement to attend all meetings
KCMS pursues its legislative efforts with the help of its lobbyist, James Paribello.
Contact: Shurlon Brathwaite w/questions or interest.
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