Student Well-Being

More School Districts Are Informing Parents of Firearm Storage Responsibilities

By Caitlynn Peetz — December 30, 2022 3 min read
Guns safes sit against a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A pledge to ensure students’ families are continuously reminded about the importance of safely storing firearms is gaining significant traction in school districts across the country, according to a gun-safety advocacy organization.

In 2018, school boards across the country began passing resolutions based on that pledge that require their schools to distribute flyers to families about how to safely store firearms in their homes. Over the past year, the number of students whose families are receiving these flyers at home has increased from about two million to eight and a half million, according to Shannon Watts, founder of the advocacy organization Moms Demand Action.

And that number continues to increase. The most recent sign-on came on Dec. 13 in Orange County, Fla., where the local school board voted unanimously to begin sharing the information with families in January, and annually in subsequent years. That means its 209,000 students will be sent home with the information.

“If guns aren’t properly stored, it can result in tragedy and that includes children finding firearms, and wounding or killing themselves or other people,” Watts said, citing a 2019 report from the U.S. Secret Service that shows the majority of school shooters use firearms from their homes. “Secure storage can prevent these things from happening.”

It’s a relatively small step, and nobody is really convinced that a fact sheet alone will prevent gun violence either at home or at school. But it does keep the issue front-and-center, on people’s minds, and could help normalize conversations about firearm safety, Watts said.

Researchers estimate that fewer than half of gun owners safely store all their guns, generally defined as storing them locked, unloaded, and separately from ammunition. Research also estimates that more than 4.6 million children live in households where loaded guns are not kept under lock and key.

While more than half of U.S. states have child access prevention laws, their details vary significantly, and often aren’t well known.

So, schools are an important conduit to raising awareness, Watts said.

Despite political rhetoric, there is common ground

The issue of safe firearm storage isn’t as political as the general right to own or carry guns, Watts said, and the organization has found success in communities that lean both liberal and conservative.

Districts in states like Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and New Mexico, among others, have taken up the issue.

In August, California became the first to enact a statewide policy that all public and charter schools notify families about secure firearm storage.

Regardless of location or political values, there seems to be a nearly universal agreement that if people own guns that they should be stored safely, Watts said.

“There’s certainly political rhetoric around this issue and politicians have used it to drum up excitement, but we have seen action and progress on this issue where we haven’t seen it on other issues around guns,” Watts said. “This is a place where we just find real common ground. It shouldn’t be political. It shouldn’t be polarizing. It’s basic responsibility if you’re going to have a gun in your home.”

The National Rifle Association, the leading advocacy organization for gun owners’ rights, has several pages on its website about the importance of safely storing guns. The group urges its members to store firearms unloaded, out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet or safe.

Watts said she is hopeful that the movement will continue to spread to districts across the country, and that more statewide policies, like California’s, will be enacted.

Linda Coffin, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Florida, said Orange County passing its safe storage resolution is proof broader success is possible.

“Every adult has a role to play to keep guns out of the reach of children,” Coffin said. “We will continue to do this life-saving work in communities across the country until we reach every student’s home. Hopefully, 8.5 million students will be just a drop in the bucket a year or two from now.”

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Close the Gender Gap: Getting Girls Excited about STEM
Join female STEM leaders as they discuss the importance of early cheerleaders, real life role models, and female networks of support.
Content provided by Logitech
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Surgeon General: Kids Under 14 Should Not Use Social Media
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said social media threatens kids' ability to develop a healthy identity and sense of self.
3 min read
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks during a White House Conversation on Youth Mental Health, Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at the White House in Washington.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks during a White House Conversation on Youth Mental Health last spring in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Student Well-Being Misogynist Influencer Andrew Tate Has Captured Boys' Attention. What Teachers Need to Know
Middle school boys, in particular, are repeating Tate's offensive language and ideas in the classroom, teachers report.
9 min read
Andrew Tate, center, and his brother Tristan, leave after appearing at the Court of Appeal, in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Jan.10, 2023. The divisive social media personality Andrew Tate arrived at a court in Romania in handcuffs on Tuesday morning to appeal a judge's earlier decision to extend his arrest period from 24 hours to 30 days on charges of being part of an organized crime group, human trafficking and rape.
Andrew Tate, center, and his brother Tristan, leave after appearing at the Court of Appeal in Bucharest, Romania, on Jan. 10. The divisive social media personality has appealed a judge's earlier decision to extend his arrest on charges of being part of an organized crime group, human trafficking, and rape.
Alexandru Dobre/AP
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on SEL for Emotional Intelligence
This Spotlight will help you identify what classifies as SEL, implement an effective SEL program, and more.

Student Well-Being Opinion The Real Reason Why Students Procrastinate
Understanding what drives procrastination can help students learn how to overcome it, explains a clinical psychologist.
Seth J. Gillihan
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty