School assemblies at Montgomery County high schools to include gun education

High school students in Montgomery County, Maryland, will get a lesson about keeping schools and students safe this fall during scheduled assemblies, which includes a lesson on gun education.

Montgomery County Public Schools, the state’s attorney’s office and the police department will give information on the law and consequences, strategies to solve problems without weapons or violence, and the importance of vigilance when it comes to guns. Other things students will learn include recognizing signs that someone might choose violence and calling the anonymous tip line.

When these topics are scheduled will be shared with the school community, and families can choose to opt out their child from these lessons, a letter from Superintendent Monifa McKnight and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.

“We appreciate your continued partnership with MCPS and as parents, guardians and caregivers, we ask that you echo these messages at home,” the letter said.

Before the start of the school year, McKnight called for a campaign to “educate our young people about gun prevalence, gun laws, and the consequences of guns.”

The “impact of guns” on communities, youth and schools, and guns’ “increasing and significant danger nationwide” were cited as the reasons for the partnership between the schools and the state’s attorney’s office for these assemblies.

Since 2014, the number of teenagers killed by guns has doubled, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive reports. In Montgomery County, 790 illegal guns have been seized this year since last month — up nearly 75% since 2020, the letter said.

In January, one student was shot and another one taken into custody for the shooting at Magruder High School. It was the school system’s first on-campus shooting.

There have been other incidents involving guns in Montgomery County schools. A week before the shooting at Magruder High School, a 17-year-old was arrested and charged after bringing a gun at Wheaton High School; and in April, a high school and a middle school went into lockdown after a report of a student with a gun.

It is illegal for anyone to possess a firearm until 21 years of age; and anyone 16 or older found in possession of a gun will be charged as an adult.

Before the start of the school year, a new memorandum of understanding between Montgomery County schools and the county police department was approved in April, in which the schools now have Community Engagement Officers who will have access to office space inside school buildings but will not be stationed at the schools.

The school system is also reminding students that essentially weapons of any kind may not be brought to any MCPS school.

“Any student found in possession of a gun or other weapon may also be subject to serious disciplinary actions in alignment with the MCPS Student Code of Conduct and potentially in violation of local, state and federal law.”

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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