Seattle — Washington Ceasefire, the citizen activist group that has fought for almost 30 years to reduce gun violence in this state, announces its most extensive public health ad campaign ever: a multi-media effort including 250 bus transit ads in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties . . .
The group’s Know the Facts campaign uses data from a leading book in the gun debate — “Private Guns, Public Health,” by David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health — to make the case that a gun in the home generally does more harm than good.
There are estimated to be about 6.5 million guns in Washington State alone — about one per resident — and approximately 40% of homes in this state have guns. Many homeowners acquire guns for what they see as a means of protection against intruders, though the facts show that the risks of home gun ownership far outweigh the benefits. One of the Know the Facts ads educates the public that when there is a gun in the home, there is a 22x greater chance of killing a family member or a friend than an intruder.
In one of the largest studies on the topic covering three cities — Galveston, Memphis and Seattle — there were only 13 legally justified acts of self-defense out of a total of 626 fatal and non-fatal shootings in residences. The survey was taken in 1994, and several subsequent studies validate the findings. According to ‘Private Guns, Public Health,” there has never been a study demonstrating that a gun in the home can meaningfully deter or thwart burglaries or home invasion.
There are almost 600 gun deaths annually in Washington state – a death toll higher than that from motor vehicle accidents — including some 350 suicides. Indeed, a majority of completed suicides are via a firearm.
One of the Know the Facts transit ads highlights the fact that when there is a gun in the home, there is a 5x greater chance of a completed suicide. The likely victims are young males and older, single, adult males, as well as those with psychological challenges such as manic depressive disorder. Unlike homicides, suicides tend to cut across all ethnic groups and income categories.
According to a CeaseFire board member, “The purpose of the campaign is not to drive a legislative ban on guns in the home, but to educate the public so everyone can make their own informed decision. Too many homeowners possess a gun under the mistaken notion it will make them safer, when the facts clearly show that home gun ownership significantly increases the chances of a tragic event. Indeed the one metric that most closely correlates to the level of gun violence in a given state is home gun ownership. If we can reduce the percentage by even a few points, we believe we can save dozens of lives annually”.
Since 1983, Washington CeaseFire has been devoted to reducing gun violence in Washington state. The non-profit group attempts to do this in a variety of ways including communication outreach with the media, public education and advocating for legislative change in Olympia. The group includes among its alumni the leate former Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas C. Wales – himself a victim of firearms violence — and former King Broadcasting President Ancil Payne.