Virginia’s largest school system is using its access to over 170,000 parents to get the word out on the state’s new law about gun storage.
A portion of Fairfax County Public Schools’ board meeting Thursday was dedicated to discussing the new law, which makes it illegal for any person to leave a loaded, unsecure firearm that could endanger a child under 14 years of age.
The law also says it’s illegal for a child under 12 to use a firearm except under supervision of an adult.
Any offense to the law would result in a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Fairfax Superintendent Scott Brabrand said that the school system is committed to spreading a message about gun safety and storage, and that it will also have an official message on the topic following the upcoming winter break.
Brabrand added that he wants it to become an annual message for the school system to put out to families.
This came after multiple parents spoke during the public comment section.
“I ask about gun storage before sending my kids into other homes,” Fairfax County parent Ashley Misitzis said.
“Sometimes I learned guns are stored securely, unloaded and locked from ammunition. Other times I learn a loaded gun is on the top shelf of a closet or in the drawer of a night stand.”
Misitzis cited research saying that 75% of children know where a gun is located in the home, and a third of them have handled those firearms “often without their parents knowledge.”
Another Fairfax parent, Heather Foglio, who volunteers with anti-gun violence organization Moms Demand Action, reminded the school system of its key role tackling public health crises.
“Like all public health epidemics, we need to use data and evidence-based practices to prevent future tragedies from occurring,” Foglio said. “Research shows that one of the best ways to protect children and teens from accessing guns is to implement fire arms storage practices.”
Board members Karl Frisch and Laura Jane Cohen echoed their support of the Superintendent Brabrand’s decision to inform families about safe gun storage.
Everytown for Gun Safety, another anti-gun violence organization, said that over 5 million children live in households with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm. The organization also said that nearly 350 children under the age of 18 unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else every year.