Education Department urges principals and districts to promote gun storage awareness

The U.S. Department of Education is calling on school principals and district leaders across the country to promote safe firearm storage to the school community. This includes sharing information with parents and families, working with parent organizations, and collaborating with local leaders. The Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter that provides a template for school leaders to use when communicating with their communities. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona emphasized the importance of education leaders in saving lives.

Grants are available for schools to support awareness efforts related to gun violence prevention, such as through the U.S. Department of Justice’s STOP School Violence Program. The call to action from the Department of Education is part of the administration’s broader efforts to address gun violence, which has become the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. According to a 2019 review by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Threat Assessment Center, a majority of school shooters obtained guns from their own homes. Cindy Marten, deputy secretary for the Education Department, emphasized the role of education leaders in elevating this issue to parents and communities.

‘We need accountability’

The Department of Education’s recommendations come after a comprehensive incident review of a 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The review found failures in first responders’ handling of the attack and raised concerns about the school’s safety measures leading up to the incident. The Department of Justice is also calling for responsible gun ownership through safe storage laws, urging states to take action in the absence of congressional measures on gun violence.

In a Michigan courtroom, the trial for the mother of the Oxford school shooter, Jennifer Crumbley, has begun. The shooter’s parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter, as their failure to secure firearms led to the tragic incident. Accountability is a key focus in these cases. The trial for the father, James Crumbley, is scheduled for March.

Educators have ‘enough on their plates’

While educators recognize their role in promoting safe firearm storage, they also express concerns about their existing responsibilities. Some educators have already taken action by reaching out to families and communities about the importance of safe storage. However, the complex nature of working with parents on this issue poses challenges. Stefanie Feldman, director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, acknowledges the workload educators face and emphasizes that they shouldn’t have to be experts in safe firearm storage. Education leaders have the ability to leverage their influence and convey the message effectively.

Experts have noted that parents may become defensive or feel their concerns aren’t taken seriously when discussions about safe firearm storage arise. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who was a former school principal, understands the challenges educators face. He encourages education leaders to embrace their role as messengers and use their credibility to address this important issue.

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