The Santa Barbara Unified School District voted unanimously during Tuesday’s board meeting to approve a resolution in favor of safe gun storage.
The resolution aims to require the school district to increase its active endorsement of safe storage practices and laws for parents with guns.
“I just want to mention that yesterday a friend told me that he thought it was curious that the schools are getting involved in an issue like this, but I think it’s totally appropriate and right,” said school board member Kate Ford.
“In fact, although we address a myriad of other responsibilities, our number one responsibility is to keep students and staff safe, especially now when so many are at home.”
With the resolution passing, the school board will send a letter, in English and Spanish, to all district parents and guardians that explains the importance of responsible gun storage. The letter will also cover the legal obligations to protect minors from accessing irresponsibly stored guns, which will be included in annual registration materials at each school site requiring a signature acknowledging awareness of responsible gun storage responsibilities.
A sample of the school board’s letter can be found at the school board’s website under the agenda item.
Although passed unanimously, many board members spoke up to make sure that sending the letter will not be the only thing the school board does regarding this issue.
Additionally, there will be small changes to the letter, including a clause that ensures the signature given by the parents will be confidential.
The agenda was brought up, in part, because students of all ages across the school district are spending the majority of time at home due to school being online for the beginning of the school year.
According to the agenda, an estimated 4.6 million American children live in households with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm. Every year, nearly 350 children under the age of 18 unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else. Of those incidents, 77% of them occur inside a household.
Additionally, with the current pandemic forcing students and parents to spend the majority of their time at home, mental health has been a major topic of discussion.
As a result, the school board wanted to remind parents that the safest way to store a gun in a household is “as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, to store them unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition.”
“We are currently living through unprecedented times. COVID-19 has affected not just our health but our mental health. We are anxious, we are scared, and so are our children. The firearm suicide rate among children and teens has increased 65%, and gun sales have increased by 70%,” Kendall Paida, a community member, said during public comment.
“I urge you to vote yes on the simple life saving resolution that will keep all of our children and teens safe at home now and safe at school in the future.”
Jacqueline Inda, another local community member, was also pleased to see the amendment pass.
“This is a resolution that we intended to pass at the Coalition Against Gun Violence several years ago and I’m honored to be able to see this go through,” Ms. Inda said.
The school board also introduced Ana Escobedo as the new assistant superintendent of elementary education during Tuesday’s meeting.
“I am beyond thrilled more than words can express and I’m so looking forward to getting to know each and everyone of you, hopefully in person very soon, and building those opportunities for our students,” Ms. Escobedo said.
“I have always told my students, if a first generation, fluent bilingual, first generation college graduate, little girl from a small community of Echo Park can become a teacher, a principal and now an assistant superintendent of elementary for Santa Barbara Unified, then you too can make all your wishes come true.”