More guns showing up in Washington schools – The 74

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More guns were brought into Washington schools this past school year than the year before.

That's according to a new report from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which reveals an 11.6% increase in weapons on school grounds in the 2022-2023 school year compared to 2021-2022. .

During the 2022-2023 school year, 2,275 weapons-related incidents were reported by Washington public and private schools. Of those, 316 involved possession of a firearm. All gun-related incidents were reported in public schools. Most other reports involved knives, daggers or “other weapons.”

However, the presence of firearms specifically increased, as there were 236 incidents involving firearms during the 2021-2022 school year, according to last year's report from the Office of the Superintendent of public education.

“I wish I could say I was really shocked by this increase, but unfortunately I'm not that shocked,” said Johnny Lupinacci, an associate professor at Washington State University who studies the intersection schools and social justice.

Although national data for the 2022-2023 school year is not yet available, 2021-2022 data shows that, among states, Washington had the 11th highest rate of students bringing guns to school. 'school.

Nationally, the number of guns appearing in schools is exploding. A Washington Post investigation found that one in 47 school-aged children, or about 1.1 million students, attended a school where at least one gun was found and reported by the media during the school year. The 2022-2023 school year – and the actual number of guns in schools may be much higher.

Washington has enacted some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country and passed three gun control laws this year alone.

Lupinacci praised the state's strict gun laws and said his “knee-jerk reaction” to the growing number of guns in schools was to make it even more difficult to obtain a firearm. fire. He said obtaining a gun remains simply “far too easy,” even in some of the most restrictive jurisdictions.

State law prohibits the possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons on school grounds except for safety and law enforcement purposes. The law also requires the expulsion of students found in possession of a firearm anywhere on school grounds, although superintendents can modify expulsions on a case-by-case basis.

Lupinacci said students primarily bring guns to schools because they don't feel safe and believe “the only way to be safe is to arm yourself in some way.” .

Guns are the leading cause of death among American children and adolescents, according to 2022 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzed by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that advocates for laws stricter on firearms.

Despite the increase in guns in Washington schools, expulsions due to gun-related incidents decreased by 49 percent. Schools have instead chosen to suspend students: compared to the 2021-2022 school year, suspensions increased by 12% in 2022-2023.

Lupinacci said “zero tolerance” policies regarding weapons in schools are important, especially with firearms, and praised Washington schools for reducing expulsions and increasing suspensions, calling the schools' response empathetic but firm.

He also said the solution to reducing guns in schools involves a “broader conversation” about reducing child poverty, increasing school funding and addressing growing mental health issues among America's youth .

“Our public school systems can and should be that safety net in our communities,” Lupinacci said. “What we find is that when we don't take care of our community, kids experience school in a way that feels unsafe or unsafe. »

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia with questions: [email protected]. Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and

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