Major Milestone: More Than Two Million Students Nationwide Now Attend Schools With Secure Firearm Storage Awareness Policies
Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and Be SMART Volunteers Have Urged School Boards Across the Country to Require Schools to Educate Parents About Secure Firearm Storage At Least 5.4 Million Children in 2021 Live in a Home With at Least One Unlocked and Loaded Firearm, Up From 4.6 Million in 2015; Up to 80% of School Shooters under the Age of 18 Obtain Their Gun From the Home
Between August 1 and October 31, at Least 89 Instances of Gunfire Occurred on School Grounds, Killing 15 and Wounding 63 — The Most Instances and People Shot in This Period Since Everytown Began Tracking in 2013
NEW YORK — Last week, the Richland School District Two and several neighboring school districts in South Carolina announced a partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund’s Be SMART Program, committing to send home secure storage information to parents and guardians. The latest development made it so that now, more than two million students live in a district that has policies in place for schools to educate parents about the critical importance of secure firearm storage in keeping schools and students safe. Just two weeks ago, eleven people were shot, four fatally, after a fifteen-year-old student accessed an unsecured firearm purchased by his parents a few days before the shooting in Oxford, Michigan. Securely storing firearms is one of the most effective ways to prevent school shootings, unintentional shootings, and gun suicides.
Over the past two years, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers, in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, have successfully urged school boards across the country to enact such notification policies, including school districts in Vermont, Texas, California, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado. Schools should be thinking about this preventive step to keep students safe in and out of the classroom. This work is part of Everytown’s comprehensive approach to keeping schools safe from all forms of gun violence.
“For as long as many students can remember, we’ve been scared we might be the next victim of senseless gun violence,” said Maddie Ahmadi, a member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board from Vermont. “Gun violence is a preventable tragedy and we can’t wait to act. The announcement is another step forward in the fight to end gun violence.”
“Protecting children from gun violence, both in schools and in their homes, begins with preventing them from getting their hands on guns in the first place through secure storage,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “That’s why our Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action and Be SMART volunteers across the country have been organizing school board by school board to pass resolutions ensuring every student gets sent home with materials on the importance of secure storage — and we’re just getting started.”
“We need to create a future where no reasonable parent would consider leaving a gun in a nightstand drawer, just as no reasonable parent would leave their teenager at home with an open invitation to raid their liquor cabinet and throw a party,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “There’s no better way to reach parents than through the schools, and we’ve proven that no one is better at convincing school leaders to prioritize secure storage than our volunteers.”
In the wake of the shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, Everytown called on local, state and federal leaders to promote secure firearm storage – a practice that all gun owners must do – as a means to protect school communities. Last month, heeding Everytown’s call, the Biden-Harris Administration announced lifesaving efforts to prevent suicide, which included promoting secure gun storage.
The calls for action come amidst a historic surge in gun violence 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.
- In incidents during this time period, 78% of them occurred in majority-minority schools.
- The source of the gun was only known through media reporting in 2 out of the 89 total incidents during this period of August-October 2021.
In the wake of the shooting in Oxford, Michigan, the call for action on the need for secure firearm storage adds to the overwhelming evidence that shows access to guns in the home is a critical intervention point:
- The Department of Homeland Security’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) studied targeted school violence from 2008 through 2017 and found that three in four (76 percent) school shooters used a firearm they took from a parent or close relative’s home. In nearly half of these shootings, the firearm was easily accessible or was not stored securely.
- A previous NTAC analysis of targeted school violence incidents from 1974 through June 2000 found that 73 percent of shooters acquired the gun(s) used in the incidents from their home or that of a relative.
- A Centers for Disease Control study that analyzed school-associated firearm violent deaths committed by students between July 1992 and June 1999 found that 79 percent of guns used were obtained from the shooter’s home or that of a friend or relative.
Unintentional shootings by children have increased over the course of the pandemic. Between March and December of 2020, there was a 32 percent increase in unintentional shooting deaths by children of themselves and others and an 18 percent increase in unintentional injuries, compared to the same time period in 2019. Research shows that the best way to protect children and teens from accessing guns is to implement secure firearm storage practices. An estimated 54 percent of gun owners don’t lock all of their guns securely and at least 5.4 million children in 2021 live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm, up from 4.6 million in 2015.
More information about the role that secure storage can play in preventing school shooting tragedies is available here. Moms Demand Action volunteers across the country have been working to promote secure storage through Everytown’s Be SMART program — a program designed to help 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.
For more information or to talk with a policy expert or Moms Demand Action, Be SMART volunteer and/or Students Demand Action volunteer, please don’t hesitate to reach out.