A newly formed nonprofit released results of an Oregon poll examining parent and teacher attitudes on gun violence on Thursday. In the poll, 76 percent of parents and 79 percent of teachers said requiring safe gun storage would be the most effective policy to minimize gun violence in schools.
The nonprofit, State of Safety, is led by executive director Henry Wessinger, who pushed a failed ballot initiative earlier this year that would have required firearms to be locked during storage and transfer.
At a press conference on Thursday, Wessinger released the poll results with Oregon PTA President-Elect Kristi Dille, Portland Association of Teachers President Suzanne Cohen, and Gabrielle Cosey, a Lincoln High School senior and co-chair of Oregon Youth for Gun Reform.
"Gun violence is absolutely an education issue," said Cohen, who graduated in the founding class of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students died in a February shooting. "We as a society need to take strides to protect our students from gun violence in and out of schools," Cohen said.
Sixty percent of parents believe the fear of gun violence impacts students' ability to learn at school, according to the poll conducted for State of Safety by Patinkin Research Group.
Cosey, the high school student, emphasized the need for student voices. "Adults don't go to school every day," Cosey said. "They don't sit during lockdown drills, they don't think about texting their parents. They aren't scared that fire drills could turn into lockdowns which could then turn into our classrooms becoming shooting ranges."
After safe gun storage, parents and teachers surveyed said that gun violence could be reduced through expanded mental health services, increased anti-bullying programs, and limiting entrances to school buildings.
A Wall Street Journal study found that in 20 school shootings between 1990 and April 2018, 17 of the shooters had obtained the firearms from home. A 2004 study from the United States Secret Service and Department of Education found similar results, showing that more than ⅔ of school attacks between 1974 and 2000 used guns obtained from parents or other relatives.
Oregon's laws governing firearms vary from strict to nonexistent. The state does not have any laws requiring safe storage of firearms in homes. Federal law requires that firearms are sold with secure gun storage or a safety device, but does not require that they are used. Only four states have laws requiring firearms to be locked.
Over the next two months, State of Safety will host screenings of the documentary 101 Seconds, about the 2012 shooting at Clackamas Town Center.