Editorial: San Jose families—lock up your firearms to prevent tragedy
Parents at Willow Glen High School are demanding answers from the San Jose Unified School District about poor communication during school lockdowns. File photo.

    Over the last couple months, children in the San Jose Unified School District have been subjected to lockdowns and Code Red alarms triggered by potential danger. The source of this heightened fear is students bringing firearms to campus and making social media threats to kill classmates.

    Parents are terrified, and the lack of succinct and swift information from the school district has only exasperated their fears. Parents at Lincoln, Hoover, Willow Glen Middle and Willow Glen High schools are demanding more from administrators and board members. They want accurate and timely information and are imploring schools to hit pause after an incident to speak with students. Last week, a district safety meeting with parents brought the community’s frustrations to the forefront.

    Parents relayed stories of their children coming home shaken and crying, racing to the school to check on their child and learning about lockdowns on the news instead of through the district. The community reprimanded the district for brushing off the incidents as if everything was OK and nothing happened. In the age of social media, real-time texts and cell phone alerts should be standard communication to parents and students. The district’s response is unacceptable.

    These schools are lucky that a student with a loaded gun and another with a ghost gun and knife were apprehended and that the social media threats were squelched. But there needs to be a structured communication plan in place moving forward. Parents need to know the San Jose Unified School District is prioritizing their children’s safety.

    The unfortunate truth is schools are no longer safe havens. The world has changed. Kissing your child goodbye in the morning and telling them to “Have a nice day,” once an afterthought, now comes with uneasiness.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports children are now more likely to die by a gun than in a car accident. Guns have become the leading cause of death for children 18 years old and younger.

    California is trying to do something about this statistic. Starting this fall, districts, including charter schools, will be required to send parents and guardians information on how to safely store guns under the child access prevention laws. Not complying with the law is now a crime. Districts will also be required to update school safety protocols and resource plans for the well-being and mental health of their students and communities.

    The onus is on the schools to help backstop any future violence. It’s a tall order, but a necessary one to prevent tragic deaths.

    This Friday is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, a day set aside to promote positive change and recommit to creating a safer future. The focus is on taking steps to protect children from gun violence and advocating for gun safety laws.

    Mary Ann Dewan, superintendent of schools for Santa Clara County and a San José Spotlight columnist, wrote, “U.S. Secret Service and Department of Education reported that more than two-thirds of school shooters used firearms from their own home or that of a relative.”

    No one in high school or younger should be walking around with a gun. In California, it’s illegal to purchase a firearm under the age of 21. This means access is happening through a family member, a 3D printer which can manufacture ghost guns, or by other illegal means.

    Since the majority of children obtain a gun from a family member, safely storing a firearm is the responsibility of parents, relatives and guardians. That simple step has a huge upside toward protecting our children, and reducing the odds of a child coming to school with a firearm that ends in senseless tragedy.

    Moryt Milo is San José Spotlight’s editorial advisor. Contact Moryt at  or follow her at @morytmilo on Twitter. Catch up on her monthly editorials here.

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