Las Vegas Sun

May 26, 2019

Currently: 78° — Complete forecast

Keep guns out of our schools

It’s only September and already we’re seeing a terrifying pattern here in Clark County. So far this year, at least seven guns have been brought into our schools. As a parent of three children — two who attend Clark County schools — each of these incidents is terrifying.

It began here Aug. 13 at Green Valley High School. Since then, we’ve seen at least six more incidents of guns being brought into our children’s schools. This is in addition to the 17 guns that were confiscated from students on Clark County School District campuses last school year. While I thought last year’s numbers were alarming, we’re on track to see far more incidents this year.

These events are cause for concern and we must not allow ourselves to become numb to this very serious and deadly situation. This month, a 15-year-old brought a BB gun to Del Sol Academy and a 9-year-old brought a gun into his elementary school. And, tragically, our community had one of our own taken by gun violence at Canyon Springs High School.

How is this happening in our community? I’m worried, and my kids are worried too. After just a few days of classes, my daughter came home and said, “I hope I’m not in sixth period if there’s a shooting because that classroom has so many windows.”

Our children shouldn’t be thinking about which classrooms are the least safe in an active shooter situation. They should be focused on learning.

We must confront the problem of guns being brought into our schools as the real and dangerous problem it is. To begin to address it, we need to discuss two things: 1) easy access to guns, and 2) the importance of storing guns responsibly, so children can’t access them.

I was glad to see that Superintendent Jesus Jara formed a committee to tackle the issue of school safety and guns in schools. If we are to properly address gun violence in schools, the committee must examine where children are obtaining the guns.

What we know from past incidents of gunfire on school grounds and confiscations of loaded guns on campuses is that students are often accessing guns from their homes and online. Right now, Nevada is not enforcing a law that would prevent a child from buying a gun through the internet. If we’re to address the issue of guns being brought into schools, we must discuss the importance of background checks on all gun sales. 

In addition to examining where these guns are coming from, we must look at how guns are being stored, and encourage responsible storage.

We have guns in our household. But I sleep easy at night, knowing they’re locked up, and the ammunition is locked up separately. My husband is a Marine veteran and was taught to properly store guns, and the deadly nature of guns if not stored and used responsibly. My husband takes this issue very seriously, and has trained others on the mechanics of guns and their different components, and most importantly, how to store guns responsibly to make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.

To address this growing issue, I urge residents to work more closely with police departments to educate parents on responsible gun storage.

The best way to keep guns safe and out of children’s hands is by following the Be SMART model. Be SMART is a public education campaign aimed at reducing the number of unintentional shootings and suicides that happen when firearms are not properly stored. The campaign rightfully places responsibility on adults and offers simple, life-saving actions that can prevent unintentional shootings by children.

If you have guns in your house, I am begging you to put the safety and security of our children first and foremost and store them responsibly.

It’s time for all of us to discuss easy access to firearms and the role it plays in school safety, and it’s time to ask hard questions, hold people accountable and make tough decisions. We must tackle this serious and dangerous problem for the sake of our children and the future of our community.

Kelcie Oakes lives in Las Vegas, is a physical therapist assistant, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, and a mother to three children, ages 16, 14 and 5.