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King County, community leaders to discuss gun violence prevention methods

Eight groups will talk to the King County Council about the impacts of gun violence and violence interruption work.

SEATTLE — Wednesday morning, leaders of community groups will meet with the King County Council to discuss gun violence prevention. 

Data from the county shows in the first quarter of 2022, "shots-fired" incidents are up around 16% and the number of shooting victims is up around 4%. 

"I think it's important to just try different methods. Continue to reach out to communities and see what is needed," said Lynniah Grayson. She started a non-profit called Resilient In Sustaining Empowerment (RISE).

The eight people invited to speak Wednesday have been impacted by gun violence. Many are now working in the community to interrupt what can be a cycle of violence.

Tuesday night, RISE brought 16 kids to DEFY trampoline park in Tukwila. The kids all lost their fathers to gun violence, and are part of an eight-week program, which helps families process grief and heal. Tuesday night was about having fun.

"We just exercise the power of play. We bring everyone together and just have a good time together," said Grayson. 

On Wednesday, Grayson will speak before the council about how to care for communities impacted by gun violence. 

"What RISE focuses on is a holistic approach that intersects with public health in an effort to heal and restore families. That's looking at an individual's mind, body and spirit as a whole and not just focus on the data," said Grayson.  

The meeting is the second of three meetings hosted by the council. Committee Chair Jeanne Kohl-Welles said the council is looking for tangible ideas that can make a difference. 

"We're trying to do this very thoughtfully, reasonably and realistically, to stem the loss of lives," said Kohl-Welles. 

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"I think [the] community needs to have a better understanding of what's happening and that's part of why I'm participating in this conversation [Wednesday]," said Sean Goode, the executive director of Choose 180, a non-profit that works with youth and the justice system. 

Goode said when it comes to curbing gun violence, a key part of the conversation needs to be about changing the narrative. He said much of the rise in gun violence has been fueled by road rage and domestic violence. 

"If you factor in just youth who are involved in gun violence, those numbers haven't gone up at the same rate, but it wouldn't feel as though that's the case when you hear about incidents of violence in the community," said Goode, "Also, it's important to us that young people are viewed as possibilities to be developed and not problems to be solved."  

Goode said data shows young people impacted by gun violence are more likely to pick up a gun in the future, which is why both Goode and Grayson hope the council understands the need to protect those who've already suffered. 

"You can't lock away gun violence. You can't hide away gun violence. You can't criminalize gun violence and make it disappear. What you can do is make sure young people who live in communities that are too often suffering from this disease of violence have the support they need to thrive," said Goode. 

The county council meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday. It will be streamed on KCTV or can be attended in person at the King County Courthouse. 

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