GUILDERLAND– During the 2021-22 school year, a group of Guilderland High School students attended a board of education meeting to advocate for a resolution that would require the Guilderland Central School District to educate families on the importance of secure firearm storage.
Emily O’Connor, Conor Webb and Nora Whiteside spoke at a board meeting to explain the importance of safe gun storage education. Webb is the president of the Guilderland chapter of March for Our Lives, a national student-led organization founded in the wake of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The students’ appeal to the board was based on recommendations issued by Everytown for Gun Safety, a not-for-profit organization working to end gun violence. The recommendations call for local initiatives such as pediatricians and school districts participating in safe gun storage awareness campaigns. It has been determined that such campaigns do much to save children’s lives.
In June, the GCSD board of education passed a resolution that states the district will provide education to families on the safe storage of guns and acknowledges the responsibility of all adult stakeholders at each district school building in keeping students, teachers and staff safe from the threat of gun violence. The GCSD board joins school boards in Vermont, Texas, California, Arizona, South Carolina, Maryland and Georgia that have passed similar resolutions.
Utilizing a flyer included in annual registration materials, the district will inform parents and guardians about secure firearm storage and their legal obligations to protect minors from accessing irresponsibly stored guns. In addition, the district will continue to work with local law enforcement agencies, health agencies and nonprofits to increase community education on this topic.
The GCSD board resolution refers to research that shows an estimated 4.6 million American children live in households with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm and that in incidents of gun violence on school grounds, up to 80 percent of shooters under the age of 18 obtained their guns from their own home, a relative’s home or friends.
The resolution also cites research proving that secure firearm storage practices are associated with an up to 85 percent reduction in the risk of unintentional firearm injuries among children and teens. Additional studies have found that 87 percent of children know where their parents’ guns are kept and 60 percent have handled them and that addressing students’ unauthorized access to guns in the home is a significant step towards intervention.