The recent tragic events in Uvalde, Texas, and Highland Park, Illinois, are awful and shocking—although not, unfortunately, surprising. Just halfway into 2022, there have been over 300 mass shootings in our country—many of them in suburbs just like Greenwich. And in schools like our kids go to…In houses of worship like the ones that we attend…At parades like the ones our families cherish.
Says Alexis Gevanter, a Greenwich resident and recent Connecticut Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action: “The nation has been devastated by the school shooting at Uvalde, which took the lives of 19 elementary school students and two educators. That this could happen again almost 10 years following the tragedy at Sandy Hook here in CT, where 20 children and 6 educators were murdered, is also terrifying for parents everywhere. So far this year, there have been at least 78 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, and guns are now the number two killer of children and teens in CT.”
Gevanter and other advocates, as well as local politicians, are sounding the alarm and committing to keeps our schools, kids and community safe.
First Selectman Fred Camillo says he’s regularly meeting with the Police Commissioner and the head of the BET, and considers safety in our schools a “365 day a year issue.” He believes building enhancements, increased deterrents (ex-military or retired cops who pass background checks) and rooftop surveillance are all important tools to bolster school safety.
Hector Arenzo, the Democratic candidate for State Representative for the 151st district, says that support for School Resource Officers is essential. “In Greenwich, the School Resource Officers (SROs) have done a tremendous effort at the high school to provide resources to all students, and I encourage the BoE to determine how Greenwich can expand these types of resources to benefit our middle school students,” says Hector. He adds that infrastructure improvements like the GHS Vestibule and initiative like the ADL “No place for Hate” programs are vital components to keeping Greenwich schools safe.
Rachel Khanna, a Democrat running for state representative in the 149th House District, says that already strong laws, like “safe storage laws” requiring gun owners with minors at home to keep their weapon safely secured, can be communicated and enforced. “Our state’s newly updated “red flag” law now allows family members and medical professionals to petition the court to have guns removed from the possession of someone who may be a danger to others or themselves,” explains Rachel. She adds that mental health support in schools is imperative. “This year, CT passed an important bill, SB1, to expand childhood mental health services in schools to meet a surge in need. This critical new law provides schools with resources to help identify students who are experiencing mental health issues and/or displaying concerning behavior, as well as funding for more trained personnel (social workers, school psychologists, school counselors and nurses) to offer support and intervention for at-risk students,” shares Rachel.
Both of these leaders have aligned themselves with organizations like Moms Demand Action. “Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety recently partnered with the nation’s largest education unions to craft a comprehensive approach to keeping schools safe from gun violence. While there are a number of initiatives that can be implemented to improve school safety, research shows that the best way to keep our children safe from gun violence is to ensure secure firearm storage in our community,” says Alexis. She points out that “up to 80% of school shooters obtain their gun from their home or the home of relatives or friends.”
Local volunteers are also facilitating change and raising awareness (see below how you can help!). “Greenwich Moms Demand Action volunteers have also been working to promote secure storage through our Be SMART program — a program designed to help parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries,” explains Alexis.
November will be a time to make our voices heard about this issue.“Elections matter. A lot. And we need to ensure we are electing representatives who make protecting our families and our communities from gun violence a top priority.”
Ellen Crafts, Moms Demand Action’s CT Communications Lead, emphasized that “we must continue to let federal, state, and local government officials know how we as constituents feel, and find out where they stand on gun violence prevention.”
She advises: “For the upcoming November election, a quick way to find out a candidate’s position on gun safety is to visit gunsensevoter.org and see if they have received — or will apply for — the “Gun Sense Candidate” distinction. If they haven’t, ask them to make the pledge now.”
Finally, please join us and get involved. Says Ellen: “There is nothing more effective than a group of organized moms, so please don’t thank us, join us! We need all of you to join us in this movement. Text READY to 644-33 to get involved today.”
More About Moms Demand Action
Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement with over 8 million Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. Volunteers are needed and you can also donate directly here: https://give.everytownsupportfund.org/team/399733.