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ICYMI: Everytown Releases New School Safety Data, Recommendations for Biden-Harris Administration on Press Call with AFT, NEA

October 11, 2021

Last week, on a press call with leaders from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, Everytown for Gun Safety released recommendations on school safety shared with the Biden-Harris Administration. The recommendations come amidst an increase in back-to-school gun violence. Just last week, four people were injured in a shooting at Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas. In fact, between August 1 and September 15 this year, there have been 30 instances of gunfire on school grounds, killing five and wounding 23. That is the most instances and people shot in that back-to-school period since Everytown started tracking gunfire on school grounds in 2013. 

Read some of what national media are saying below:

Washington Post Editorial Board: The Texas school shooting was ‘not a random act of violence’ — and that’s the problem

“Everytown for Gun Safety put together a list of recommendations for the Biden administration on school safety that goes beyond the active-shooter drills that research shows only make children more anxious. Top on the list is the secure storage of firearms so that children can’t get their hands on them. In incidents of gunfire on school grounds, as much as 80 percent of shooters under the age of 18 got the weapon from their home or those of friends or relatives. Schools should follow the lead of districts that have required parents to be educated about the importance of locking up firearms, and laws are needed mandating safe storage with stiff penalties for violators.”

USA Today: Back-to-school gun violence was highest on record. Active shooter drills may not be the answer.

“For Justin Funez, a University of Chicago student and volunteer with Students Demand Action, an organization that works to end gun violence, reforms should also extend beyond school grounds. Most of the gun violence that children experience occurs off-campus – and that’s particularly true in low-income communities, where students often learn in classrooms with the sounds of sirens in the background. 

“How can you do your homework if you’re worried about that?” Funez posed. “How many clubs can you actually participate in if you know you have to be home before” the gunfire erupts?”

Newsweek: School Shootings Nearly Double as Students Return From Remote Learning

“For many students, one of the key anxieties around the issue of gun safety in schools is the preparation for such an event, which can be traumatizing not only for younger children but even older children who sometimes are unaware that what’s taking place is a drill and not a real occurrence of gunfire.

“[Peren] Tiemann, who is a Students Demand Action volunteer in Oregon, has been organizing against active shooter drills at her school. Working with school administrators, Tiemann has helped update drills in a way that she hopes will “cause the least amount of pain as possible.”

For Tiemann, this includes advanced notice for students, parents, teachers and all school staff, student input and guidance from mental health professionals, a rest period between completion of the drill and the return to class and a survey system for students to provide feedback.”

Education Week: A Rise in School Shootings Leads to Renewed Calls for Action

“Sadly, back to school has meant back-to-school shootings in too many communities across the country,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a gun safety group, on the press call. “Every instance of gunfire on school grounds shakes a community and makes it harder for students and teachers to feel safe in schools.”

“Watts said Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action have been lobbying school boards to require schools to notify and educate parents about the importance of secure firearm storage. About 1.5 million of the country’s 50.7 million schoolchildren live in a district that does so, the groups say.

“In the Arlington shooting, it’s so far unclear how the 18-year-old shooter accessed the gun that he used to open fire after a fight occurred in the classroom. Watts said this information is vital: “If we don’t understand how children and teens are accessing loaded guns, it makes it that much harder to solve the problem.”

Everytown’s fact sheet on preventing gun violence in schools is available here. School safety experts and volunteers with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action are available for interviews.

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