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Everytown Renews Calls on Biden-Harris Administration to Promote Secure Firearm Storage, Releases New School Shooting Data in Wake of Oxford High School Shooting

December 1, 2021

Between August 1 and October 31, at Least 89 Instances of Gunfire Occurred on School Grounds, Killing 15 and Wounding 63 — The Most Instances and People Shot in This Period Since Everytown Began Tracking in 2013

3 out of 4 School Shooters Acquire the Gun From Their Home; Firearm Used in Shooting Was Purchased by 15-Year-Old Suspect’s Father on Friday

At Least 5.4 Million Children in 2021 Live in a Home With at Least One Unlocked and Loaded Firearm, Up From 4.6 Million in 2015; Last Month, Heeding Everytown’s Call, the Biden-Harris Administration Announced Lifesaving Secure Storage Efforts to Prevent Suicide

NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety, and Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown’s grassroots networks, released the following statements calling on the Biden-Harris Administration to promote secure firearm storage  – a practice that all gun owners must do – as a means to protect school communities in the wake of the shooting yesterday at Oxford High School in Michigan, where eleven people were shot, four fatally. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said that the suspect’s father had purchased the semiautomatic handgun used in the shooting on Friday. Last month, heeding Everytown’s call, the Biden-Harris Administration announced lifesaving efforts to prevent suicide, which included promoting secure gun storage.

“The worst fears of American parents are being realized — in the aftermath of Covid lockdowns, school shootings are on the rise, with yesterday’s tragedy in Michigan being just the latest example,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “It’s time for the Biden-Harris Administration to do even more to keep guns out of young hands by promoting secure firearm storage, which would build on the important work they’ve already announced to prevent suicide. Every school district should notify parents of their responsibility to store their guns securely, and every gun-owning parent must take that responsibility seriously.”

“Let’s be clear about what happened yesterday: a 15-year-old got their hands on a gun they shouldn’t have had access to, and as a result, three students are dead, eight people were wounded, and a community is scarred forever,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “When parents don’t prevent their kids from accessing guns, this is what can happen. Dozens of school districts across the country have already taken action to keep kids safe by implementing secure firearm storage notification policies, and there’s never been a better time for the Biden-Harris Administration to turbocharge these efforts.”

“No one should experience what my cousin did yesterday while he was in school, but because too many kids have access to unsecurely stored guns, he, the Oxford High community, and far too many other schools across the country, will never be the same,” said Aria Segura, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Michigan whose cousin attends Oxford High School. “We should not have to live in a world with gun violence in our schools, or in our communities, but for far too many of us, this is our reality. We need real action on every level to protect us from gun violence, and the Biden-Harris Administration can help do that by helping ensure that parents know just how important secure gun storage is.”

The calls for action come amidst an historic surge in gun violence on school grounds:

In October, Everytown for Gun Safety released recommendations on school safety shared with the Biden-Harris Administration, which focused heavily on protecting children and promoting school safety by encouraging the secure storage of firearms. Today, Everytown is renewing its calls for the Biden-Harris Administration to:

  • Direct the Department of Education to develop a strategy to encourage school districts to send parents secure firearm storage information and raise awareness about the importance of secure storage in keeping schools safe. 
  • Publish guidance on the secure storage information schools should disseminate and on the methods to reach parents, and incorporate the guidance in upcoming convenings, trainings and webinars.
  • Develop and provide recommendations on the best type of secure storage devices to prevent unauthorized access by students. 
  • Direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to complete the work initiated by the Obama Administration and review the effectiveness of gun locks and gun safes.
  • Direct the Department of Justice to enforce the laws that prevent underage students from purchasing firearms and continue to call for Congressional action to close the loopholes in the background check law.

The call for action on the need for secure firearm storage comes after this latest incident adds to the overwhelming evidence that shows access to guns in the home is a critical intervention point:

  • The Department of Homeland Security’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) studied targeted school violence from 2008 through 2017 and found that three in four (76 percent) school shooters used a firearm they took from a parent or close relative’s home. In nearly half of these shootings, the firearm was easily accessible or was not stored securely. 
  • A previous NTAC analysis of targeted school violence incidents from 1974 through June 2000 found that 73 percent of shooters acquired the gun(s) used in the incidents from their home or that of a relative.
  • A Centers for Disease Control study that analyzed school-associated firearm violent deaths committed by students between July 1992 and June 1999 found that 79 percent of guns used were obtained from the shooter’s home or that of a friend or relative.

Research shows that the best way to protect children and teens from accessing guns is to implement secure firearm storage practices. An estimated 54 percent of gun owners don’t lock all of their guns securely and at least 5.4 million children in 2021 live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm, up from 4.6 million in 2015. 

More than 1.5 million students across the country now live in a school district that requires schools to educate parents about the critical importance of secure firearm storage in keeping schools and students safe, thanks to the advocacy work of volunteers with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action. They’ve successfully urged school boards across the country to enact such notification policies, including school districts in Vermont, Texas, California, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado. This work is part of Everytown’s comprehensive approach to keeping schools safe from all forms of gun violence. There were observed warning signs prior to the shooting at Oxford High School, as there have been in nearly every other incident of targeted school violence. As laid out in the comprehensive plan, schools need to invest in the mental health supports needed to act on warning signs to prevent tragedies before they occur. More information about the role that secure storage can play in preventing school shooting tragedies is available here. Moms Demand Action volunteers around the country have also been working to promote secure storage through Everytown’s Be SMART program — a program designed to help parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries, youth suicides, and gunfire on school grounds.

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