Tucson Unified School District schools will soon offer gunlocks at no charge, no questions asked, to TUSD families who want one.
Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo told the Pima County Board of Supervisors Tuesday that “far too often” the district has students coming to school with unauthorized firearms. Sometimes, he said, it’s because adults are not aware of gun locks.
Trujillo added, “Sometimes we see injuries, and sometimes even fatalities from our students and students’ loved ones and family members because of the irresponsible handling of firearms that are loose and available in the home.”
He said much of this can be attributed to education and information not being available, particularly concerning firearm locks.
An intergovernmental agreement between the Board of Supervisors and Tucson Unified School District solidified Tuesday will make firearm locks readily available to TUSD parents and guardians.
As part of the pilot program, firearm locks will be available in TUSD school offices to parents or guardians, provided on request, starting when the 2024 school year begins. They can be given to not only the firearm owners, but to other adult family members who would like to help their loved ones keep their guns safe.
Pima County Attorney Laura Conover said conversations about the locks will be kept private and confidential.
The County Attorney’s Office will provide at least 10 firearm locks to each TUSD school, at no cost to TUSD.
The program will be paid for with Pima County’s Anti-Racketeering Revolving Fund. These funds come from seizure of property used to commit crimes or proceeds from crimes committed, the office says.
Locks and informational materials will be distributed to all schools by school safety officers. School safety and office managers will monitor supplies and distribution and record the number of locks distributed.
The goals are accident prevention, suicide prevention and theft deterrence.
“The idea is to make sure that we have safety in our households with guns and to make sure that our kids are safe,” said TUSD Governing Board member Jennifer Eckstrom.
Gun safety education in general will have a more active presence at TUSD schools, officials said.
According to statistics presented by the Pima County Attorney’s Office, in 2022 there were 226 deaths caused by firearms in Pima County. There have been 1,433 firearm deaths since 2017; 65% were suicides and 33% were homicides. The remaining deaths were attributed to either accidents or as “undetermined.”
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