Photos from the Ohio and Washington School Shootings.
The Law Center expresses our deepest condolences to the families affected by Monday’s tragic mass shooting in Chardon, Ohio, where a 17-year-old entered Chardon High School armed with a handgun and fired 10 rounds in the school’s cafeteria, killing three students and wounding two others.
Sadly, the school shooting in Chardon wasn’t the only recent incident of gun violence in one of our nation’s schools. Less than one week before, an 8-year-old girl in Bremerton, Washington was critically wounded in her third grade classroom, when a gun brought to school by one of her classmates, a 9-year-old boy, accidentally discharged while in the boy’s backpack.
The shootings, occurring over two thousand miles apart, might seem very different: one was intentional, the other an accident. But according to emerging news reports, both children acquired their guns in the same way, by taking them from family members’ homes.
All too often, kids get access to guns because adults don’t act responsibly. A 2005 study on firearm storage practices in U.S. homes concluded that over 1.69 million children and youth under age 18 are living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms.
Easy access to loaded and unlocked guns in the home increases the risk of intentional and accidental shootings. Strong laws that require the safe storage of firearms and prohibit leaving guns accessible to children can work to reduce these risks. At the very least, they send a strong message that we care enough about the safety of our children to require gun owners to act responsibly. Unlike some other states, neither Ohio nor Washington has any law requiring safe firearm storage or requiring gun owners to prevent access to firearms by children.
The tragedies in Chardon and Bremerton remind us that while children frequently get guns at home, the weapons don’t always stay there. And taking easy, obvious steps to adopt stronger laws to encourage responsible firearm ownership and prevent future tragedies should be something we can all agree on.