Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

Miguel Cardona Should Help Schools Push Parents to Store Guns Safely, Lawmakers Say

By Andrew Ujifusa — December 15, 2021 3 min read
Three Oakland County Sheriff's deputies survey the grounds outside of the residence of parents of the Oxford High School shooter on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education should create a strategy to encourage school districts to provide parents information about safely storing firearms, in the wake of shootings at a Michigan school last month that left four students dead, scores of federal lawmakers say.

In a Wednesday letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, more than 100 Democratic members of Congress said such guidance would bolster a “critical intervention” to help prevent school shootings. The lawmakers also said the department should provide schools with guidance about the best ways to reach parents effectively.

Citing data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the lawmakers said that 76 percent of school shooters used a gun they took from the home of a parent or close relative, and that in nearly half of those incidents, the gun was either easily accessible or not secured.

“The Biden administration supports bold action to address gun violence, and we need that leadership again to keep our schools safe. Keeping guns away from kids should be neither partisan nor controversial,” said 18 members of the Senate and 101 House lawmakers. “We have seen many school districts take action to provide information on secure storage to their families, but far too many have not.”

The school shootings in Oxford, Mich., have once again left school leaders, policymakers, and others searching for answers about how to improve school safety and make such incidents less likely.

A growing number of schools recently have used the strategy of reminding parents to secure their guns; earlier this month, for example, Atlanta schools pledged to work with community groups on highlighting the importance of safe gun storage. School officials who’ve used this approach say that it’s a simple strategy that can help fill in the communication gap left by federal and state governments in many instances, although it doesn’t change or affect gun laws already on the books that cover local jurisdictions.

Roughly 30 states, along with the District of Columbia, have laws essentially designed to prevent children’s access to firearms. These statutes vary widely. Research from 2018 in the Journal of Urban Health found that 4.6 million children live in households where loaded guns aren’t locked away.

In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the STOP School Violence Act into law following the 2018 school shootings in Parkland., Fla. It provides funding for threat assessments, training, and other activities. However, school shootings like those in Parkland and in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, have not led to significant changes in how the federal government approaches gun control.

Last March, the U.S. Secret Service published an analysis of school violence, including students who plotted violence at schools. The report notes that “many of the student plotters had access to weapons, including unimpeded access to firearms.” The Secret Service also said that school resource officers “play an important role” in preventing school violence.

Democrats have been debating the extent to which law enforcement and school resource officers should be at the center of effort to make schools safer and prevent violence.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., one of the lead lawmakers behind Wednesday’s letter to Cardona, has supported efforts strengthen background checks for firearms purchases and other gun control measures. He has also pushed legislation to remove police officers from schools.

Trump formed a federal school safety committee in 2018 after the Parkland shootings that was led by former education Secretary Betsy DeVos. That committee suggested that schools study whether to train and arm certain staff—echoing a position taken by Trump—and recommended that DeVos scrap school discipline guidance from the Obama administration, which DeVos ultimately did.

A 15-year-old student at Oxford High School, has been charged as an adult with murder and other crimes stemming from the Nov. 30 shootings in Michigan that also left six students and a teacher wounded. His parents have also been charged with involuntary manslaughter as part of the case. They have been accused of giving their son access to a gun and failing to intervene.

Law enforcement officials have also criticized school officials for not taking sufficient action before the shooting.

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

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

Federal Biden Admin. Says New K-12 Agenda Tackles Absenteeism, Tutoring, Extended Learning
The White House unveiled a set of K-12 priorities at the start of an election year.
4 min read
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
Steven Senne/AP
Federal Lawmakers Want to Reauthorize a Major Education Research Law. What Stands in the Way?
Lawmakers have tried and failed to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act over the past nearly two decades.
7 min read
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, as Starbucks founder Howard Schultz answers questions about the company's actions during an ongoing employee unionizing campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023. The two lawmakers sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Federal Will the Government Actually Shut Down This Time? What Educators Should Know
The federal government is once again on the verge of shutting down. Here's why educators should care, but shouldn't necessarily worry.
1 min read
Photo illustration of Capitol building and closed sign.
iStock
Federal Biden Admin. Warns Schools to Protect Students From Antisemitism, Islamophobia
The U.S. Department of Education released a "Dear Colleague" letter reminding schools of their obligation to address discrimination.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview in his office at the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Mark Schiefelbein/AP