TACOMA, Wash. — Gun violence has been called one of our country's most pressing publish health issues.
People in western Washington are grappling with its deadly impact that happens far too often.
In Tacoma on Thursday, Public Health Seattle and King County hosted a two-day conference on gun violence, which featured local and national experts on the epidemic of gun violence.
Dr. Chico Tillmon is regarded as a national expert on ways to combat gun violence.
"We need that mindset that all sectors have a role to play in restricting, mitigating, or quelling gun violence," Tillmon said.
Throughout his talk at the "Together We End Gun Violence" conference, he hammered home the importance of collective efforts to address the issue.
"As opposed to a quick fix.. giving the money to one organization and expecting it to end when gun violence has increased based upon several different factors."
Seattle and Tacoma have seen a rise in homicides in recent years, with Seattle reaching 52 cases in 2022, just one short of its 2020 record, and Tacoma recording its highest-ever number of 45 homicides.
By being at this conference, community stakeholders are trying to prevent 2023 from breaking any more records.
Eleuthera Lisch leads the regional Gun Violence Unit at Public Health Seattle and King County. She says people don't need to be part of an agency to make a difference.
"You can give your time, you can give your money, you can work in the field, you can support the people who work in the field. You can support the hospital workers, you can raise your voices when it comes to ballots," Lisch said. "You can get involved."
However, without collaboration from the community, reducing gun violence won't be possible.
"Together, we can end gun violence but together is everything. If we don't work on this together, if we are number, desensitized, inattentive and not involved, it will not change," Tillmon said. "It's the most pressing social issue of our time."