Seattle City Council member and mayoral candidate Tim Burgess today entered the fray over gun violence and what the city of Seattle can do to address it.
Burgess, chair of the Finance and Government Performance Committee, said the Council should consider a $371,000 package of initiatives to support research on gun violence and improve the city and King County’s response to mental health crises.
The call for action on gun violence comes after Mayor Mike McGinn, who is seeking reelection, hosted a highly publicized gun buyback event downtown earlier this month and called for more private donations to help pay for a second one.
“Gun violence is a public-health crisis and this funding package enables Seattle to take positive action now,” Burgess said in a statement. Burgess said the National Rifle Association has long blocked federal research on how to decrease gun violence, but Seattle could jump-start the effort on the local level.
In December, Burgess led the City Council’s call for stronger state measures on gun control, including universal background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons and large ammunition clips. State law preempts cities from enacting their own gun legislation.
Burgess plans a hearing on the latest initiative in his committee March 6, which raises the question of why he would hold a hearing on a public health initiative in a committee that generally deals with budgets and bureaucratic process. Nick Licata chairs the council’s Health and Human Services Committee. Bruce Harrell, another mayoral hopeful, chairs the Public Safety Committee.
“Nick is on my committee,” Burgess joked. “Harrell may think it belongs in his committee, but I grabbed it first.”