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Everytown For Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, National Education Association Respond to New Secret Service Report on Gun Violence in Schools

November 8, 2019

Everytown for Gun Safety, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association Previously Released Comprehensive School Safety Recommendations 

NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, along with the National Education Association today released the following statements in response to the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center’s new report, “Protecting America’s Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence,” an expansion of the landmark 2002 study analyzing incidents of targeted school violence from 1974 through May 2000.

The newly released report analyzes incidents of targeted school violence from 2008 through 2017, and found that 100 percent of those who perpetrated gun violence in schools showed warning signs and 76 percent accessed guns from the home. Based on these findings, the report recommends evidence-based threat assessment programs as the foundation of school safety policy. 

“Too often, we hear local officials say their hands are tied when it comes to preventing gun violence in schools — but as this report proves, that’s just not true,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Across the country, Moms Demand Action volunteers are urging their local school boards to enact threat assessment programs, educate parents on secure gun storage and provide counseling to students who are struggling.” 

As a high school senior, I should be thinking about applying to colleges and enjoying my last year at home,” said Sari Kaufman, a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and a member of the Students Demand Action national advisory board. “But since seventeen of my friends, classmates and teachers had their lives cut short in a senseless, preventable shooting, I’ve spent my time advocating for policies that can prevent this from happening again. It’s time for school boards and lawmakers at all levels to do the same, and pass the proven, life-saving policies that will keep us safe.” 

“Our foremost priority as educators is ensuring our students’ safety and well-being,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. “This report includes important steps to make schools safer, including secure firearm storage and evidence-based threat assessment programs. We firmly believe any threat assessment program must be designed to ensure students of color or with disabilities aren’t discriminated against. But the reality is too many very dangerous people have very easy access to very dangerous weapons, which is why the Senate needs to pass common-sense measures to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. And our schools need resources to hire more counselors and nurses, as well as strengthen anti-bullying programs to ensure we take a comprehensive approach to keep our students safe.”

Research shows that schools that use threat assessment programs see as few as 0.5 to 3.5 percent of students attempt or carry out their threat of violence, with none of the threats that were carried out being serious threats to kill, shoot or seriously injure someone. Schools with threat assessment programs following the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (VSTAG) also see fewer expulsions, suspensions and fewer arrests. Studies have also shown that VSTAG threat assessment programs generally do not have a disproportionate impact on students of color. 

This report’s findings are consistent with those from the Secret Service’s 2002 report, and form the basis for the comprehensive school safety recommendations made by Everytown for Gun Safety, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.  

In additions to threat assessment programs, recommendations from Everytown, The AFT and NEA include: 

  • Policies proven to help keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them in the first place, such as secure firearm storage laws, laws that raise the age to purchase semiautomatic firearms to 21 and requiring background checks on all gun sales
  • Red flag laws, which allow families and law enforcement to intervene and temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns when there are clear warning signs they pose a threat to themselves or others
  • Improving the physical security of schools with proven tactics like installing internal locks and limiting the number of entry points and who can enter schools
  • Supporting the health of students by creating safe and equitable schools and by providing more counselors and other professionals to help increase mental health services and social emotional support in schools.

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