The Virginia 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 announcement from the Fairfax County School Board that its Superintendent will distribute Be SMART information to educate parents about the importance for secure firearm storage in reducing the risk of gun violence among children and teens. Virginia Moms Demand Action volunteers were on the forefront of this outcome, with Laura Jane Cohen, a volunteer and member of the Fairfax County School Board, leading the efforts. Students in Fairfax County – the largest school district in the Commonwealth of Virginia – join over 2 million others across the country who live in school districts that have adopted secure storage awareness policies for parents. This also comes after a devastating surge of gunfire on school grounds, during which there have been 107 instances of gunfire on school grounds, killing 21 and wounding 80, since August 2021.
“We owe it to our students to prioritize their safety, both at school and at home, and secure firearm storage is an essential part of that,” said Heather Foglio, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We know that securely storing guns is one of the best ways to protect our future generations from gun violence, and we are grateful to the Fairfax County School Board and Superintendent for recognizing this and taking meaningful action. We thank board members Laura Jane Cohen and Karl Frisch for their leadership on this issue.”
“We’re so excited to see Fairfax join the nationwide grassroots movement by parents, students and school boards to take action on secure storage policies that help save lives and keep guns out of the hands of children,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and Be SMART volunteers have been working district by district to pass similar resolutions, and thanks to their hard work, parents of more than 2 million students are receiving notifications on the importance of securely storing firearms — and we’re just getting started.”
Recently, Everytown for Gun Safety applauded a congressional letter addressed to the Biden-Harris Administration urging the administration to develop a strategy for encouraging school districts to send parents information on secure firearms storage. In incidents of gunfire on school grounds, up to 80 percent of shooters under the age of 18 got the gun they used from their home or the homes of friends or relatives. An estimated 54 percent of gun owners don’t lock all of their guns securely and it’s estimated that 5.4 million children live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded gun, an increase of 800,000 children since 2015.
The Be SMART program, developed by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action, helps parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries, youth suicides and gunfire on school grounds.
The program encourages parents and adults to:
- Secure all guns in their home and vehicles
- Model responsible behavior around guns
- Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide
- Tell your peers to be SMART