King County, Washington is in the midst of a violent crime spike as the office of Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is reporting the first six months of the year saw more people shot than in any of the previous four years over the same time period.
There is no small irony in this, because King County, which encompasses Seattle—headquarters to the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a gun prohibition lobbying group—is something of the bastion of Pacific Northwest gun control.
In 2014, voters in the county passed gun control Initiative 594, a so-called “universal background check” measure sold to the voters as a tool to reduce violent crime involving firearms, generically called “gun violence.” The margin in King County was an impressive YES vote of 468,243 (74.99%) against a sorry NO vote of 156,146 (25.01%).
Four years later, in 2018, the Alliance pushed through another, even more restrictive gun control measure, Initiative 1639, which regulates so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles.” It created a definition of such firearms that applies to every semi-auto rifle ever manufactured. It also prohibits anyone under age 21 from purchasing such a firearm, requires proof of safety training to buy one, mandates a 10-day waiting period and “enhanced background check” and adds them to the state pistol/firearms registry.
Again, this measure was pushed through as a tool to reduce so-called “gun violence” and in King County, it won overwhelmingly with 732,773 YES votes (76.42%) but only 226,117 NO votes (23.58%).
In a news release, Satterberg’s office noted, “Our office launched the Shots Fired project in 2017 to take a public health approach to gun violence – and through crunching the numbers and our expanding community partnerships we are working to understand which individuals and communities are at highest risk, and utilize both prevention and intervention approaches to keep King County residents safe.”
“While the total number of shots fired incidents so far in 2020 (424) is slightly less than the three-year average (437),” the Prosecutor’s Office news release explained, “the number of overall shooting victims (140) is up 21% from the three-year average (115) with a 44% increase in the number of fatal shooting victims and a 16% increase in the number of non-fatal shooting victims.”
Satterberg’s office notes that shooting victims have been “disproportionately young people of color.”
Of the 140 shooting victims from the first half of the year, 87% were male; 42% were under the age of 25; and 73% were people of color, Satterberg’s office detailed. This is “similar” to the three-year average for shooting victims in the county, where 86% were male; 45% were under the age of 25; and 80% were people of color, according to the news release.
July turned for the worse, with Harborview Medical Center treating 44 people with gunshot wounds. Last year in July, there were only 26 people treated. That number is up from 34 in June, which was also up from June 2019, during which Harborview saw 24 people with gunshot wounds, the prosecutor’s office said.
During the first half of the year, the prosecutor’s office has filed 47 murder and manslaughter charges, including 27 with firearm enhancements. In all of 2019, there were 57 murder and manslaughter cases, including 33 with firearm enhancements.
The data suggests to gun rights activists that gun control measures supported strongly in King County have failed to deliver. What is happening in the county does reflect something of a trend, however. Murders are up in Chicago, New York City, Baltimore and other areas where restrictive gun control is popular, but does not produce the desired results.
For example, New York reported 244 shootings last month, a staggering increase over the 88 reported in July 2019. Through July, according to the local Fox affiliate, the city reported a 72 percent spike in shootings over the same month last year.