The analogy of treating the gun industry the way we treated big tobacco is one that’s used fairly often, but I can’t remember an act more directly related to this approach than what the King County Board of Health just did in Washington state:
The King County Board of Health has unanimously passed what is believed to be the west coast’s first law requiring stores selling firearms to post warning signs at entrances and cash registers. The regulation also requires the warnings to be posted at firing ranges.
Board of Health rules and regulations have jurisdiction throughout the county, including within all 39 municipalities and unincorporated areas.
First proposed by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott this past summer, the signs will warn of the increased risk of suicide, fatal acts of domestic violence, and unintentional deaths to children in homes where a gun is present.
The law, put into place by the nation’s 13th largest county would also require the signage to include contact information for suicide prevention hotlines. Dealers not complying will face a fine of $100 per day.
Washington has been in the news a lot lately on the issue of guns - a King County judge last month upheld a Seattle safe storage law, and a pro-regulation initiative was overwhelmingly passed by the state’s voters on election day. This latest action in King County a clear example of local officials seeing a problem, and seeking to solve it.
According to the Board of Health, guns were the third-highest cause of death in Washington in 2015, the most recent year data is available. Seven-hundred and fourteen died after being shot that year, and 75 percent of those deaths were suicides, according to the state Department of Health. Of the 714 killed by guns in 2015, 146 lived in King County.