The 13-year-old boy who shot Bennie six times brought his father’s loaded gun to school and showed it off to other children before pulling it out and using it to end Bennie’s life, according to a police statement.
But our children don’t have to live — and die — like this. It isn’t about teaching children and teens to stand up to a bully who turns out to have a gun, the way that police said Bennie did, or traumatizing them with extreme active shooter drills that simulate a shooting. It’s not the responsibility of children to know not to touch loaded, unsecured guns when they find them at their home or a friend’s home.
Instead, it’s on us — all of us — as adults to make sure guns are stored unloaded, locked and separate from ammunition. It’s on all of us to ask our fellow parents, neighbors and family members how guns are stored in their homes. And it’s on all of us to demand that secure storage policies become a required part of the responsibility of gun ownership.
But more work must be done to keep our children safe. Only by taking on the gun lobby at the community, state and federal level can we ensure gun violence doesn’t make it to our schools in the first place. Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to gun violence. As adults, we can and must do better. Our children’s lives depend on it.