The Arkansas chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, issued the following statement today in response to the release of the Arkansas School Safety Commission Interim Report recommendations. The recommendations outlined in the report revolve heavily around maintaining an armed presence in every school, including a dangerous program that has been used to arm teachers and school staff. Noticeably absent from the recommendations is any policy to prevent guns from coming into Arkansas schools.
“Students deserve to learn without fearing for our lives,” said Jayce Pollard, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Arkansas. “And that means real gun safety solutions, not more guns and more officers in our halls.”
“Far more needs to be done to keep our children safe in and out of the classroom, but militarizing their schools is not the answer,” said Anna Morshedi, a volunteer with the Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Increasing the presence of armed personnel in schools does little to prevent gun violence, and it poses an additional risk to the wellbeing of students of color. We need lawmakers to address the root cause of the problem and stop guns from coming into our schools in the first place.”
In light of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, conversations on school safety have been reignited around the country. While any school safety plan must be tailored to the specific needs of the district, in order to effectively address violence in schools, lawmakers must prioritize implementing solutions to address the common denominator in all school shootings: easy access to guns by those at risk of committing harm. 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 4.6 million children in 2021 live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm.
Next week, the Arkansas legislature will return to Little Rock for a special session. Among other issues, lawmakers will consider providing $50 million for a school safety grant. This funding should be used to support evidence-based policies that can help keep guns out of schools, including secure firearm storage and threat assessment programs. Additional school safety policy recommendations are outlined in Everytown’s Keeping Our Schools Safe Report.
In 2021 and 2022, there have been at least eight incidents of gunfire on school grounds in Arkansas. Guns are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the state. Arkansas has some of the weakest gun laws and highest gun violence rates in the country. More information about gun violence in Arkansas is available here.