Firearm Injury in Washington
The Giffords Law Center estimates the annual cost of gun violence to be $3.8 billion to the state and $544 for every Washington resident.1 In 2017, Washington State had 849 deaths attributed to firearms with a death rate of 11.1 per 100,000 population compared to a 12.0 rate for the United States as a whole.2 Seventy-six percent of firearm deaths in the state are attributed to suicides.1 Black men (aged 18 to 24) are 20 times more likely than white men to be firearm homicide victims.1 According to the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, US women are 16 times more likely to be firearm homicide victims than women in peer countries.3 Additionally, the second leading cause of death for children in the United States are firearms, which are also a major contributor to the homicide of LGBTQ+ identified individuals with approximately half being murdered by firearms.3
According to the Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, between 2013 and 2016, 34.3% of households had a least one firearm, 36.6% of whom stored it locked and unloaded.4 Approximately, 18.8% of participants reported storing the firearm unlocked and loaded.4 A study of firearm ownership and storage in relation to suicide risk and memory loss among older adults in Washington State revealed that of the 4,428 study participants, 38.6% reported having a firearm in the home and 23.5% of these individuals stored at least one firearm unlocked and loaded.5 In this group, 17.4% had depression, 6.9% had frequent mental distress, and 12.2% had memory loss. This is particularly salient as there is an association between suicide and firearm ownership as well as higher rates of firearm death for adults aged 75 and older.6
Suicides comprise a large portion of firearm deaths in Washington and the country. Approximately 76.4% and 75.3% of firearm deaths in Washington in 2013 and 2017, respectively, were suicides compared to 63% and 60% in the United States.6 Suicide decedents were more likely to own at least one firearm arm.7 Additionally, suicide decedents were two to four times more likely to own a handgun, store a firearm loaded, or carry a firearm off-duty.7
Intimate Partner Violence
An additional risk factor for firearm injury and death includes intimate partner violence. Approximately 47% of intimate partner homicides in Washington involved a firearm, and in a multistate study about 61.2% of adolescent intimate partner homicides involved a firearm.1, 8 In a study on intimate partner homicide (IPH) among adolescents and youth adults, 90% of adolescent IPH victims were female and an average of 16 years old. The majority (77.9%) of the perpetrators were over 18 and 62.7% of them were current intimate partners of the decedents.8 Perpetrators of IPH against young adults (aged 19 to 24) were older and more likely a past intimate partner than those of adolescent IPHs.8 IPH was committed for a variety of reason, the most common of which were jealousy or broken/unrequited relationships and pregnancy related.8
Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center
Regarding other original research, Firearm Injury & Research Policy Program researchers discovered a spatial disparity between where a firearm injury occurs and where it is recorded in police records, with the median distance being 3.9 miles.9 Additional recent research conducted through the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center include investigation of the relationship between state beer excise tax and firearm homicides;10 correlation between prior criminal history, substance use, and firearm injury;11 and relationship between income inequality and firearm homicide.12
1. Giffords Law Center. The State of Gun Violence in Washington, 2017. (pdf)
2. Centers for Disease Control. Firearm Mortality by State, 2017.
3. Alliance for Gun Responsibility. Gun violence is a national health crisis, 2019.
4. Erin R. Morgan, Anthony Gomez, and Ali Rowhani-Rahbar. Firearm Ownership, Storage Practices, and Suicide Risk Factors in Washington State, 2013–2016. 2018. American Journal of Public Health.
5. Erin R. Morgan, Anthony Gomez, Frederick P. Rivara, and Ali Rowhani-Rahbar. Household Firearm Ownership and Storage, Suicide Risk Factors, and Memory Loss Among Older Adults: Results From a Statewide Survey, 2019. Annals of Internal Medicine.
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injury Prevention & Control: Data & Statistics (WISQARS). Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.
7. Joseph A. Simonetti and Ali Rowhani-Rahbar. Limiting Access to Firearms as a Suicide Prevention Strategy Among Adults: What Should Clinicians Recommend?, 2019. JAMA Network Open.
8. Avanti Adhia, Mary A. Kernic, David Hemenway, Monica S. Vavilala, and Frederick Rivara. Intimate Partner Homicide of Adolescents, 2019. JAMA Pediatrics.
9. Brianna Mills, Anjum Hajat, Frederick Rivara, Paula Nurius, Ross Matsueda, and Ali Rowhani-Rahbar. Firearm Assault Injuries by Residence and Injury Occurrence Location, 2019. Injury Prevention.
10. Robert A. Tessler, J. Mooney, Alex Quistberg, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, Monica S.Vavilala, and Frederick P. Rivara. State-Level Beer Excise Tax and Firearm Homicide in Adolescents and Young Adults, 2019. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
11. Brianna Mills, Paula Nurius, Ross Matsueda, Frederick P. Rivara, and Ali Rowhani-Rahbar. Prior Arrest, Substance Use, Mental Disorder, and Intent-Specific Firearm Injury, 2018. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
12. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, Alex Quistberg, Erin R. Morgan, Anjum Hajat, and Frederick P. Rivara. Income inequality and firearm homicide in the US: a county-level cohort study, 2018. Injury Prevention.