New Resource on Importance of Safe Firearm Storage Released by U.S. Department of Education for School Administrators

An essential measure to prevent gun violence and ensure the safety of schools, homes, and communities is the proper storage of firearms. To raise awareness about this crucial strategy, the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Department), is releasing a new resource. This resource will enable schools to effectively communicate with parents and families about the importance of safe firearm storage and encourage more people to take preventive action by securely storing their firearms. Furthermore, a town hall meeting will be held at the White House today, hosted by First Lady Jill Biden, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention Director Stef Feldman. The objective of the town hall is to highlight the significance of safe firearms storage and emphasize the role that principals and education leaders can play in preventing gun violence. The town hall can be watched here: town hall.

Secretary Cardona expressed his concern saying, “Gun-related injuries and deaths are a heartbreaking public health crisis, and it will take action from all of us to better protect our children. We know that keeping guns locked and securely stored is one of the most effective tools we have for keeping kids safe and preventing senseless tragedies. The resources released today by the Biden-Harris Administration will empower principals, school officials, and families to better address the issue of safe firearm storage in our communities as we continue to press Congress for greater action on gun violence.”

A striking 20 percent of childhood deaths are caused by firearms, many of which can be prevented through safe firearm storage. The newly released resource for principals and district leaders allows them to effectively communicate with parents, families, and communities on the importance of safe firearm storage. Secretary Cardona has included a letter encouraging principals to take action. By promoting awareness of safe firearm storage, we can reduce the risk of weapons falling into the wrong hands and save families and communities from the tragic consequences that may follow.

While safe firearm storage plays a vital role in preventing gun violence, it is crucial to address the negative impact that direct and indirect exposure to guns can have on students’ mental health and well-being. The Biden-Harris Administration, through initiatives such as the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), and other grant programs, has allocated an unprecedented amount of funding to establish safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments. These investments aim to increase access to school-based mental health services and strengthen the network of mental health professionals in high-need communities. By providing greater access to preventative support, we can enhance student safety and well-being. Additionally, the Department recently announced $6.4 million in new Project Prevent awards, further advancing the President’s Mental Health Strategy and addressing the impact of community violence on students. These investments align with the Administration’s commitment to the Raise the Bar: Lead the World initiative, which emphasizes the importance of mental health.

In addition to promoting safe firearm storage, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced approximately $50 million in new grants, made possible by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), to support the implementation and expansion of school-based health services through Medicaid. Each state can receive up to $2.5 million in funding, benefiting as many as 20 states. These grants will enhance access to mental and physical health services in schools, utilizing the Medicaid program. Secretary Cardona, along with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, has sent a letter to states urging them to utilize this funding to ensure mental and physical health services are accessible in schools and can reach more children. This funding has the potential to connect millions more American children to critical health care services, particularly for mental health.

The efforts regarding safe storage of firearms are part of a broader Administration-wide initiative led by the newly established White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. This initiative places significant importance on this prevention strategy in communities throughout the United States. The work complements the actions taken by the President and the Administration to address the gun violence epidemic through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, including measures such as restraining orders to keep dangerous individuals from accessing firearms, enhanced background checks for buyers under 21, and additional funding for proven, community-based violence prevention programs.

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