The Vermont chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after the Champlain Valley School District voted to approve a letter that will be sent out from the district to ensure parents are receiving information about the importance of securely storing firearms to protect children and teens from accessing guns at home.
“Vermont isn’t exempt from our nation’s gun violence epidemic,” said Maddie Ahmadi, a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action in Essex and a member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board. “Every day, students worry about gun violence in our schools, homes and communities. This letter allows us to breathe a little easier knowing that parents and guardians will be reminded that securely storing firearms can prevent gun violence and save lives. We’ll continue to advocate for other school districts to follow Champlain Valley’s lead.”
Students Demand Action volunteers have led these efforts in Vermont with a coalition of other student groups to make sure school districts are including secure storage notifications in school materials. This action comes on the heels of the Essex Westford School District Superintendent agreeing to send home secure storage information in December. The Superintendent also agreed to include the information in the student handbook in the 2021-2022 school year.
The vote comes following the actions of other school districts across the country who have taken similar actions in recent years. Currently, there are over 1 million students in school districts with secure storage notification policies in place.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States. In the majority of school gun violence incidents involving a shooter under the age of 18, the shooter obtained the gun from home, their relative’s home or from friends. And, 87% of all gun deaths in Vermont are suicides. These numbers suggest that secure storage can be an effective tool in addressing gun violence among children and teens, as well as the source of guns used in school gun violence.
A 2019 study estimated that if half of households with children switched from leaving their guns unlocked to responsibly storing them all locked, one-third of youth gun suicides and unintentional deaths could be prevented – saving an estimated 251 lives in a single year.