As I write this, communities throughout our country have been devastated by recent mass shootings. Just weeks ago, we experienced our own fear-inducing event here in Piedmont when a student threatened to bring a firearm to school.
The epidemic of gun violence is not limited to mass shootings. Thousands are killed by guns every year in suicides, domestic and crime-related shootings, and unintentional shootings. We know this is our reality. The Piedmont City Council and Piedmont Board of Education have both officially recognized the ongoing and exigent need to address gun violence. Meaningful legislative gun reform on a national level is beyond overdue.
The current state of affairs leaves many feeling helpless, at a loss, and in fear. But we are not helpless. We can work to control what we have the power to control.
As usual with our Piedmont community, concerned residents are taking the lead. Last year, two local representatives of Brady United Against Gun Violence approached former Superintendent Randy Booker and me about working together to address this crisis. As a result, we formed a team of PUSD administration and City staff who have been working with these individuals to identify tangible actions that could make our community safer from gun violence, again thinking about what is in our control.
We identified several focus areas, starting with safe gun storage education. Often, individuals who own a gun assume their children aren’t aware and don’t even know where a gun is stored. This is a dangerous assumption. If you own a gun, always assume that your child is aware and take steps to ensure the gun is not accessible to them. Here are some actionable steps you can take now:
1) Always keep guns locked in a gun safe.
2) Use a trigger lock. If you don’t have one, come by the police department and we will give
3) If you don’t want your gun, surrender it to us. We will destroy it free of charge.
Juvenile Officer Hugo Diaz has begun this education work at a series of meetings with PHS and PMS Parent Clubs. We will be rolling out additional educational materials in the coming weeks on safe gun storage and other actions you can take, such as having the uncomfortable conversations about the presence of guns in homes where your child may be visiting.
When each of us takes steps within our power to improve the safety of our own lived situations, it improves all our safety collectively. Piedmont Police work daily to prevent gun violence – through proactive enforcement that takes guns off the street, through accepting and destroying unwanted firearms, and through other actions within our power as law enforcement. In the case of the recent threat to one of our schools, the students who overheard a concerning comment did the right thing within their own power by telling their teacher.
By the time you read this letter, we will have lost many more people to gun violence nationally. As grim as that feels, I know we can find power as a community, one household at a time, to make a difference by securing weapons within our own homes.
Finally, we can and must reach out for help if there are safety concerns associated with the presence of firearms in a complex life situation. Piedmont Police are experienced with procuring gun violence restraining orders and may be able to remove the guns from the situation. You can reach us 24 hours a day at (510) 420-3000 for a non-emergency request and 911 for all emergencies.