SPOKANE, Wash. — In the wake of another horrific school shooting, communities aren’t just worried about mass shootings. Armed violence as a whole is causing heads of state to reconsider how we focus our efforts to address violence.

“This shakes us all to the core,” said Dr Frederick Rivara. He is director of the Gun Injury and Policy Research Program at the University of Washington. “As a country, we are affected by this. You – me – we are neighbors. We are all affected by this.

The nation mourns the loss of life in Uvalde, Texas, but this type of violence is not the only problem plaguing the country.

“Mass shootings grab the headlines, but it’s not the everyday gun violence we’re trying to tackle,” said Kate Kelly. She is the Executive Director of the Office of Gun Safety and Violence Prevention.

This is a relatively new organization within the Ministry of Commerce. It is made up of law enforcement, public health and community advocates who work to find proactive solutions to the growing problem of gun violence and misuse in general. .

In addition to mass shootings, suicides, domestic violence, and gang-related gun violence are major concerns in the state.

They use data to dive into gun violence hotspots in the state. These are the top 5 counties in Washington where the most people have been killed by gun violence in the past five years.

1. King
2. Drill
3. Yakima
4. Snohomism

Using the data, the Office of Gun Safety and Violence Prevention targets the communities most experiencing gun violence and sees how increased funding and programs can intervene and save lives.

“What we’re doing is trying to focus on those areas and identify those high-risk neighborhoods and people and focus our high-risk response efforts on them,” Kelly said.

Kelly wants to see a decrease in deaths, but making things happen is even harder.

“Unless individual states like Texas start passing laws that restrict access to guns,” Rivara said. “Like not allowing an 18-year-old in and out with two AR-15s unless something like that happens, I’m not hopeful.”

Rivara says states need to step up their efforts to fix the problem before more parents lose a child in a place that’s supposed to be safe.

These researchers say they are seeing a disturbing increase in gun violence here in Washington since the pandemic. Rivara says he’s not convinced that will happen, but adds that federal background checks would go a long way to ensuring guns don’t end up in the wrong hands.

READ: How Washington and Idaho’s gun laws compare to Texas’s

READ: Local advocacy groups traumatized by Uvalde shooting demand action