School Board approves gun safety and gun storage resolution

At the June 3, 2019 Piedmont City Council meeting, this group received a copy of the city's proclamation in support of Gun Violence Awareness Day, which was June 7. Pictured here. from left to right, are Shafer Dando, Izara Dando, Mayor Robert McBain, Amy Maidenberg, Joan Hoffman, and Erin Dando (Photo credit: Sam Richards)

The Board of Education approved a gun safety resolution on Wednesday night that directed the superintendent and staff to update the student handbook to include information about the importance of secure gun storage, the legal
requirements of parents and guardians to securely store their firearms, and that the best practice for secure gun storage is to keep all guns unloaded, locked up, and separate from ammunition.

The resolution also directed the superintendent to send a letter to parents and guardians that explains the importance of secure gun storage in preventing minors from accessing guns, the legal requirements of parents and guardians to securely store their firearms, and that the best practice for secure gun storage is to keep all guns unloaded, locked up, and separate from ammunition, to be included in annual registration materials at each school site, and requiring a signature acknowledging awareness of secure gun storage responsibilities

The Board and the superintendent will continue to work with local law enforcement agencies, health agencies, and non-profits to collaborate and increase efforts to inform district parents of their obligations regarding secure storage of firearms in their homes.

Trustees heard from community members and Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers about the importance of raising awareness on this topic.

Educating the public about gun safety requires constant engagement and education, Bowers said. “Raising awareness about formal structures that are in place — gun violence restraining orders, for example — is also important.”

Community member and regional co-chair of the Brady United Against Gun Violence campaign Steve Roland said it was the 25th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting last week. Since Columbine, he said, over 400 school shootings have occurred, and about 75% of those incidents involve a a gun that is in the home.

“Everybody, regardless of their politics, believes [guns] should be handled safely,” Roland said.

Erin Dando, a Piedmont resident and Everytown for Gun Safety’s national organizing director, told the board that since 2020 gun violence has been the number one killer of children and teens in this country. The overwhelming number of firearms used in these incidents are from the home or the home of a family member, and children and teen suicide numbers are rising. “We have a responsibility to talk about gun safety,” she said. Parents and community members can find resources on how to talk about gun safety and other resources on the “Be SMART for Kids” website, she said.

Trustee Lindsay Thomasson asked the speakers if there were efforts to inform the community outside the schools about this issue. Bowers said he was working with the city’s communications director on some messaging beyond the police department website. Existing laws are on the books requiring safe storage, Bowers said; under California law it’s a crime to store guns negligently. He also said information about gun violence restraining orders is on the police department’s website. Bowers also noted that criminals will look for unsecured firearms during a break-in.

“We shouldn’t make assumptions about who might have guns,” said Trustee Cory Smegal, who shared her surprise at learning a friend kept guns in the home. “It’s important to have the language to talk about this.”

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