Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s Statement on Devastating Shooting in Texas Elementary School

OLYMPIA — May 24, 2022 — The tragic events in Texas today are heartbreaking, pathetically consistent, and deeply tragic. Today, another domestic terrorist took the lives of school-aged students and at least one educator with a firearm, and I offer my deepest condolences to the families, the community, and every American who is crushed once again by an all too familiar headline.

In Washington state, we have worked very hard to enhance physical safety in our schools. We have made substantial investments in threat-assessment protocols and interventions, comprehensive school safety plans and procedures in each school, large financial commitments to student mental and behavioral health interventions, required training for school safety and security staff, as well as in increasing the number of adults in our schools to support students. But, make no mistake, the Texas tragedy can still happen here.

To my fellow Washingtonians: Please understand that another round of news, opinion, outrage, and political spin will not change the research. America has one of the highest gun density rates in the world. It results in the highest rates of murder and deaths by suicide from firearms of any industrialized nation. Research study after research study continues to conclude that gun density per 100,000 population has the strongest correlation to homicides. The more guns in your community and in your home, the more likely you or a family member will die by gun violence. Murders, suicides, and firearms used in crimes are directly correlated to guns in the home, specifically unsecured firearms.

I will pray for the families who lost their children today, and I will pray that every parent, guardian, and grandparent in our nation will make the impactful decision to remove or secure deadly firearms within their home. There is simply no debate: Our homes are safer when there are no guns inside them.

There will be much debate by lawmakers, as there always is, about more gun safety laws, fewer people accessing guns, and the criminal consequences of using a gun to commit a crime. As a father, community member, and our state’s schools chief, I am making a personal appeal to you today to please reconsider gun possession in your home if you are a gun owner today. In America, the overwhelming data are clear that gun owners and their families are more likely to die by their own gun than they are to use them in self-defense or protection.

Please join me in considering the deeply personal choice of not keeping a firearm in your home. With our personal choices, we can save lives immediately.

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The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Led by Supt. Chris Reykdal, OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state.

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