Atlanta Public Schools Will Work With Nonprofits, Advocates, and Law Enforcement to Promote Secure Gun Storage
Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action Volunteers Have Urged School Boards Across the Country, Covering More Than 1.5 Million Students, to Pass Resolutions Requiring Schools to Educate Parents About Secure Firearm Storage
Up to 80% of School Shooters under the Age of 18 Obtain Their Gun From the Home, Including the Shooter who Killed Four Students and Wounded Seven Others at Oxford High School
ATLANTA — The Georgia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement applauding the Atlanta School Board for passing a resolution promoting the secure storage of firearms. The resolution commits the Board and Superintendent to increase efforts to inform district stakeholders of the importance of secure firearm storage and comes in the wake of the shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan. According to police reports, the 15-year-old shooter accessed an unsecured handgun, purchased four days before the shooting, from his parents’ nightstand; he used that handgun in the shooting.
“In Michigan, two parents ignored their obligation to secure their guns, and now, four children are dead,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “School districts across the country must take action to promote secure storage, as Atlanta did tonight, as they ask – how can we prevent school shootings from happening here.”
“This is how every school district across the country should respond to the devastating tragedy we saw just last week in Michigan – by reminding gun owners that it’s their responsibility and obligation to store their guns securely,” said Maggie Zwettler, a volunteer with the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “The simple fact is that if kids didn’t have access to firearms, we wouldn’t be suffering through this uniquely American epidemic of school shootings. The steps that the Atlanta School Board will take to promote secure firearm storage will keep our kids safer in and out of school.”
“Schools should be where we feel safest, but because 5.4 million kids in this country live in homes with unsecured guns, gun violence in school is a threat we have to think about every day,” said Gisselle Palacios, a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action in Georgia. “Every school board across Georgia – and across the country – should promote secure gun storage, like Atlanta’s just committed to doing, and if they did, our schools would be safer places.”
An estimated 5.4 million children in the U.S. live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked. Secure firearm storage in the home is one of the most effective tools to prevent gun violence in schools. According to research from the U.S. Secret Service, up to 76% of school shooters obtain their gun from their home or the home of relatives.
This school year has seen an unprecedented surge in gunfire on school grounds. Between August 1 and October 31 this year, there have been 89 instances of gunfire on school grounds, killing 15 and wounding 63. That is the most instances and people shot in that period since Everytown started tracking gunfire on school grounds in 2013. September and October 2021 are tied for the most incidents recorded in a single month in Everytown’s database, with 32 incidents in each month. More information about the role that secure storage can play in preventing school shooting tragedies is available here.
Over the past two years, volunteers with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, have successfully urged school boards across the country, covering more than 1.5 million students, to enact such notification policies, including school districts in Vermont, Texas, California, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado. This work is part of Everytown’s comprehensive approach to keeping schools safe from all forms of gun violence.
Additionally, every year, hundreds of American children gain access to firearms and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else, and secure firearm storage plays a vital role in reducing unintentional shootings and gun suicide. Unintentional shootings by children have increased over the course of the pandemic. Between March and December of 2020, there was a 31 percent increase in unintentional shooting deaths by children of themselves and others, compared to the same time period in 2019.
Moms Demand Action volunteers have long advocated for secure firearm storage. In 2015, Moms Demand Action launched the Be SMART campaign to raise awareness that responsible gun storage – storing guns unloaded, locked and separate from ammunition – can save children’s lives. Today, there are thousands of Be SMART volunteers active across all 50 states.