The Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education will vote at its Tuesday meeting on a resolution requiring the district send a bilingual letter to all district parents reminding them of their legal responsibility to properly store firearms.
The resolution and sample letter attached to it are authored by the Santa Barbara Chapter of Moms Demand Action, which has been trying to get a safe storage resolution passed for the past two years, according to the chapter’s group co-lead Kendall Pata. The resolution is based on a similar one that was passed last year by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In an interview with the News-Press, Ms. Pata remarked that now is an appropriate time for the board to vote on a safe gun storage resolution for a few reasons. For one, gun sales have risen 70 percent since COVID-19, and the pandemic has relegated most students to their homes and made it so those who live in gun-owning households are spending more time around firearms.
“Guns are one of the leading causes of deaths for American children and teens, and gun storage is one of the simplest ways to save children’s lives,” Ms. Pata said.
She added, “We have more children and more guns at home than ever before. It’s the duty of the school board to keep our children and teens safe.”
Statistics cited in the resolution include 350 kids under the age of 18 unintentionally shooting themselves or others every year, 77 percent of the incidents taking place inside a home, 590 children dying by gun suicides every year, usually by using guns belonging to a family member, and 78 percent of school shooters under 18 obtaining guns from their own home, a relative’s home, or the home of a friend.
Under California Penal Code section 25100, it is criminal to negligently store or leave a firearm in a location where a child is likely to gain access to it, and resultantly the child gets access to it and commits bodily injury to themselves or others. It is also a criminal act if a gun is improperly stored and leads to a child acquiring it and bringing it to a public place.
In a statement to the News-Press, school board president Laura Capps said she is bringing the resolution before the board “to keep our children safe.”
“While the threat of school shootings have dropped, our children are actually facing a greater threat of gun violence. We have more guns and more kids together than ever before. Safe storage of firearms saves lives, and it’s the law,” she said.
SBUSD superintendent Hilda Maldonado told the News-Press, “We are raising this now because we know parents are their children’s first teacher and maintaining safety measures is key.”
The SBUSD Board of Education’s next meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Due to COVID-19, it will be conducted via Zoom, links to which can be found online at www.sbunified.org.