The Florida Times-Union | By Emily Bloch | January 13, 2022
Duval County Public Schools officials want to get the word out about firearm safety after a record year of gunfire on school grounds nationwide.
The School Board passed a resolution this week voicing support for gun safety and security. The resolution is tasking Superintendent Diana Greene to communicate with local parents and guardians the importance of securing guns safely annually.
Exact details on the type of communication Greene will send were not immediately available, but options mentioned included a potential letter or flyer. The communication will be distributed by schools the first quarter of each school year.
The resolution’s passing comes on the heels of an incident last week where a Fletcher High School student was placed in police custody after bringing a toy handgun to campus. As of last month, Duval Schools reported at least three firearm incidents and arrests within the 2021-22 school year.
“Time and time again, we’ve seen the tragedy that can ensue when kids get their hands on unsecured weapons,” said Moms Demand Action Florida chapter volunteer Katie Hathaway. “Promoting secure storage is critical to keeping children safe from gun violence in and out of school, and we encourage leaders across Florida to follow suit.”
In the resolution, the board and Greene commit to continuing work with local nonprofits, law enforcement and health agencies to emphasize a parent’s obligation to secure guns safely when they’re inside the home.
The resolution cites 24 accidental shootings that occurred in Florida last year, five of which were in Duval County. A Times-Union analysis showed that in 2021, young victims 11 to 20 years old made up the city’s third-worst rate of homicide victims.
Students and recent alumni also applauded Duval Schools’ stance on gun safety.
Isabella Ensign, a current student at Florida State University who leads Florida’s Students Demand Action state chapter, said the board’s resolution is a step in the right direction.
“Because of weak firearm laws, students like me have been forced to grow up living in fear of gun violence,” she said. “We won’t stop fighting until future generations can go to school without that fear. Resolutions like this one can help keep us safer, and we need every county across the state to step up and do the same.”