Governor announces plan that he says will help reduce gun violence

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A day after President Obama took measures to expand firearm background checks, Gov. Jay Inslee announced his own initiative to help reduce gun deaths Wednesday.

The governor announced his statewide public health initiative that he says will help reduce murders and suicides and he said his plan focuses on mental health.

The governor said the key is to stop violence before it starts.

“Every single day someone in the state of Washington dies from gun violence,” said Inslee.

The governor’s plan will focus on public health by looking at data to help identify people and places that are more prone to gun violence and suicides.

The governor believes if you can get to the source, you can help prevent a tragedy.

“Firearms today are the leading cause of death and injury, even more so than motor vehicles,” added Inslee.

Inslee said between 2012 and 2014, an annual average of 665 people died in Washington from firearm injuries (80 percent of those were suicides), compared to 497 deaths from automobile accidents per year.

“As long as I’m governor, Washington will be one of those states that when it comes to gun violence, enough is enough,” said Inslee.

Part of the plan will mean the governor will add to the current background check system and allow information to be shared between agencies and courts.

“It will give law enforcement the support we need to be even more successful in preventing dangerous people from obtaining firearms,” King County Sheriff John Urquhart said.

Critics question whether the governor’s plan could prevent future mass shootings, but state public health officials say it’s a start.

“For those violence acts that are based on mental illness, the earlier we can detect someone has a mental illness the earlier we can get services to them and the less likely we are to get to that crisis point,” said David Johnson, the CEO of Navos, one of the largest mental health centers in Washington.

The governor is also taking steps to prevent suicides and is directing the Department of Health to implement a suicide prevention plan to help those in need.