Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Writes Letter to School Administrators that Includes Everytown and Be SMART Materials
WASHINGTON — Today, in response to the White House’s announcement of new executive actions to promote the secure storage of firearms, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action released the following statements:
“Secure storage is the linchpin of responsible gun ownership, and that’s especially true if you have kids in the house,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “In a nation where gun violence is now the leading cause of death for young people, our leaders should be using every tool at their disposal to keep guns away from kids — and that’s exactly what the Biden-Harris Administration is doing with these measures, which include the most comprehensive guide on secure storage ever released by the federal government.”
“Every year, too many kids in our country get their hands on guns, leading to heartbreaking, preventable tragedies,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “Secure storage is a critical ingredient of responsible gun ownership, without which tragedy can strike in an instant. The Biden-Harris Administration’s actions today have the potential to be lifesaving, and demonstrate how we need to implement all types of solutions for our gun violence crisis.”
“I know first hand the grief and trauma an unsecure gun can cause, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” said Eunice Benavidez, a Moms Demand Action volunteer in Michigan and Fellow with the Everytown Survivor Network. Eunice’s father, Alejandro Guerrero, was shot and killed while working as a taxi driver in New York and her brother, Alejandro Guerrero Jr., died at 14 years old when his best friend shot him with an unsecured gun at a sleepover. “The Biden-Harris administration’s leadership on secure gun storage today honors me, my family, and the far too many families who know the pain of losing loved ones due to entirely preventable gun violence.”
“We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: When guns are the leading cause of death for our generation, we demand our leaders to act with urgency – and it’s clear the Biden-Harris Administration continues to step up to the plate,” said Rae Rackley, a volunteer leader with Duke University’s Students Demand Action chapter who led efforts to successfully adopt a secure storage resolution in her school district in North Carolina. “Preventing gun violence starts by taking action, before tragedy strikes. That’s why students like me are working all over the country to adopt secure storage policies to save lives. It’s empowering to see the White House in lockstep with our goals for a brighter, safer future that’s free from gun violence.”
The White House’s latest executive actions take several important steps to promote secure storage, reduce gun violence, and keep our communities safer. First, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has written and sent a letter to school principals and district administrators on the importance of secure firearm storage—including relevant data and research on the problem of unsecured firearms and the benefits of secure storage.
Secretary Cardona’s letter also notes that the Department of Education has developed a resource—a customizable letter template—that these principals and administrators can send to parents and guardians about secure storage. This template is the Administration’s second new action: it also contains key data and research on gun violence in schools, firearm suicide, and unintentional shootings and how secure storage can reduce these risks. The letter further includes specific guidance on how to securely store firearms—unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition—and provides numerous Everytown materials as additional resources, including Be SMART’s Guide to Secure Gun Storage Devices.
Finally, the Department of Justice has published the “most comprehensive guide on safe storage ever released by the federal government,” including recommendations for gun owners and Federal Firearms Licensees on secure storage. These recommendations focus on how to handle and store guns, including in cars, what qualifies as a secure storage or safety device with detailed instructions, and best practices when children or other at-risk or prohibited persons are in the home.
Be SMART is an educational program of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund designed to help parents and adults normalize conversations about gun safety, raise awareness about the risks of unsecured firearms, and take responsible actions to prevent child gun deaths and injuries through secure gun storage. Moms Demand Action volunteers who advocate for the Be SMART program work closely with community partners, school boards, law enforcement officials, gun owners and non-gun owners alike to spread the secure storage message. A testament to years of tireless advocacy, more than 10 million students across the country already live in a district that requires schools to educate parents about secure storage or disseminate Be SMART materials.
Be SMART asks parents and caretakers, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, to ‘Be SMART’ and take these simple steps:
- Secure all guns in homes and vehicles
- Model responsible behavior around guns
- Ask about the presence of unsecured firearms in other homes your child visits
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide
- Tell your peers to Be SMART.