Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention
Strong communities are safe communities. Housed within the Community Services Division of the Department of Commerce, the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention (OFSVP) is dedicated to implementing evidence-based policies, strategies and interventions in communities across Washington with a goal of better understanding and reducing firearm violence.
OFSVP works hand-in-hand with policymakers, public health officials, government entities, law enforcement agencies, researchers, community organizations and individual community members. We prioritize investment in underserved, historically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, building violence prevention and intervention capacity through engagement, outreach and technical assistance, and using data validated by our community partners to inform funding decisions.
The Legislature created OFSVP in 2020 (Ch. 43.330A RCW). The responsibilities of the office include:
- Creating and maintaining a network of community intervention and reduction programs across the state
- Developing best practice guidance and providing technical assistance
- Convening gatherings and training to bring together state and national experts and community participants
- Identifying and improving upon available data sources, data collection methods and data-sharing mechanisms
- Identifying and administering state, federal and private funding for a grant program focused on reducing firearm violence in communities
- Issuing a bi-annual report and policy recommendations to policymakers
A data-driven approach to reducing gun violence
Data is crucial for communities, researchers and policymakers to understand and mitigate firearm violence. Robust data can provide a foundation for improving evidence-based policymaking. Setting out the data responsibilities of OFSVP, the Legislature directed Commerce to:
- Work with law enforcement agencies, county prosecutors, researchers, and public health agencies throughout the state to identify and improve upon available data sources, data collection methods, and data-sharing mechanisms; and
- Identify gaps in available data needed for ongoing analysis, policy development, and implementation of evidence-based firearm violence intervention and prevention strategies.
OFSVP has partnered with researchers from the University of Washington Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program to compile an inventory and descriptions of existing sources of Washington firearms-related data. The inventory identifies 31 data sources in three main categories: health and healthcare, criminal justice, and firearm-related licensing and sales data.
The owners and users of these data systems were then engaged to identify steps to improve access to and the usefulness of the data collected. The resulting recommendations must recognize existing sensitivities surrounding the data, including health, law enforcement or other confidentialities. At the same time, we must be able to flag avoidable or outdated data collection and sharing restrictions and adopt measures to de-identify the data to make it more accessible in aggregate, including bridging barriers created by the traditional functional boundaries of local and state agencies.
Through this early work, we have learned that — while many public health and public safety agencies track data related to firearms, firearm-related injuries and fatalities, and violent crime — that data is often collected and only accessible in silos.
Moving forward, OFSVP will continue these efforts to explore and identify steps to improve the availability and quality of firearm data in Washington through information collection and data sharing.
Emerging national opportunities
The federal government has been investing in community violence intervention and prevention programs in Washington and the rest of the country. To enable this investment, the administration has adjusted federal guidance for many existing funding programs in response to the spike in firearm violence during the pandemic.
Renewed focus on firearm data and research at the federal level has been another encouraging development. Specifically, researchers can analyze previously unexplored or isolated public health and public safety datasets to understand better the unique dynamics of fatal and non-fatal shootings and firearm-related crimes.
Moving forward, OFSVP will continue collaborating with other states, the Washington congressional delegation, the Department of Justice, and other supporting federal agencies to work toward continued federal support for firearm violence data collection and research and continued funding for community violence intervention efforts. We will also help educate our communities about emerging federal opportunities.
Supporting community firearm violence intervention and prevention programs
The Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention funds programs throughout Washington that provide support and assistance to individuals at high risk for firearm violence. OFSVP has awarded over $8 million in grant funds for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. These programs provide technical assistance and resources to develop community-based programs to reduce gun violence and allow intentional, coordinated, and sustained investments in evidence-based violence reduction strategies in our communities. This investment will reduce the human and financial costs of firearm violence and enhance community safety, with a focus on underserved, historically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, building violence prevention and intervention capacity through engagement, outreach and technical assistance, and using data validated by our community partners to inform funding decisions.
To learn about new funding opportunities, sign up for email updates.
Mapping community gun violence
Researchers have identified specific evidence-based practices to reduce community firearm violence. Different strategies have been developed to address other forms of firearm violence, including suicide and domestic violence. Data is crucial for helping identify which communities are experiencing higher rates of homicides. The office will work with those communities to coordinate and help implement evidence-based prevention strategies.
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Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention
- University of Washington Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program
- Gun Violence, King County
- The State of Gun Violence in Washington, Giffords Law Center (Jan. 2020).
- Crime Victim Resources
- National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College
- National Gun Violence Archive
- Investing in Intervention: the Critical Role of State-Level Support | Giffords
- Gun Violence Resource Hub
- The BulletPoints Project
- Inventory of Firearm Data for Washington state
- Everytown – The One Thing You Can Do Resource
Community Safety Programs
OFSVP Advisory Committee Members
- Sarah Augustine, Dispute Resolution centers and Walk About Yakima
- Devitta Briscoe, Gun Violence Prevention Liaison, City of Seattle
- Dan Carew, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
- Gregory Engel, MD, Board Member, Washington CeaseFire
- Shalisa Hayes, Violence Prevention activist, Community leader
- Renee Hopkins, CEO, Alliance for Gun Responsibility
- Deepika Nehra, MD – Associate Program Director, Trauma/Surgical Critical Care Fellowship, Associate Faculty Member, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center
- Melanie-Angela Neuilly, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Criminal Justice and Criminology, Washington State University
- Laura Prater, Ph.D., MPH, MHA, Acting Assistant Professor, Dep’t of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Program Director, Research Translation, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, School of Medicine, University of Washington
- Donnitta Sinclair, Gun violence prevention activist, Community member
- Steve Strachan, Executive Director, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs
- Cheryl Stumbo, Manager of the Everytown Survivor Network, survivor of the 2006 Seattle Jewish Federation shooting
- Sarah Sumadi, Associate Regional Director, Everytown for Gun Safety
- Eric Trupin, Ph.D., Psychologist and Professor of University of Washington Psychiatry and Behavioral Science