As conversations about gun violence came to the forefront Friday in Colorado, Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Christopher Smith sent an email to the Cherry Creek community informing them that gun …
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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24 hours, can be reached by calling 988.
The Colorado Crisis Services, a statewide behavioral health crisis response system, is available 24 hours. People can call (844) 493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.
As conversations about gun violence came to the forefront Friday in Colorado, Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Christopher Smith sent an email saying gun locks are available for families to pick up at the schools. No questions asked.
Gun locks are devices that prevent a weapon from discharging. Smith said the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office has provided gun locks for Cherry Creek Schools to hand out, free of charge, to families.
The gun locks are available in baskets in the entryways of schools, and there are also pamphlets that explain how to use the locks, he said.
“Every year, we lose students and staff in the Cherry Creek School District to gun violence, including suicide by firearm,” Smith wrote. “Suicides are on the rise across the country, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) data.
“In CCSD, suicide threat assessments are also increasing. Firearms are now the leading cause of death for children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” he added.
According to the CDC, in 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34. Suicides account for about 54% of all firearm deaths, and roughly 53% of all suicides involve a firearm, according to a 2022 article published by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Smith noted in his letter that the state law “Safe Storage of Firearms,” passed in 2021, requires firearms be responsibly and securely stored when they are not in use in order to prevent access by unsupervised juveniles and other unauthorized users.
“Responsible and safe gun storage in the home can save lives,” Smith wrote. “Any single step we can take to prevent suicide and save a life is a step worth taking.”
He said community members can find more information on how to safely store guns online at projectchildsafe.org and bit.ly/safetoolkits.
Cherry Creek Schools also has a mental health webpage with resources regarding youth suicide prevention, available at: bit.ly/cchealth23.
Smith’s letter was sent the same day as hundreds of East High School students marched to the Colorado Capitol to demand that state lawmakers take action to prevent more gun violence, as reported by The Colorado Sun.
East High School student Luis Garcia, 16, died March 1 after spending weeks in the hospital following being shot outside of his school. Garcia was a member of the Denver East Angels soccer team, according to a GoFundMe that was created Feb. 14 to support Garcia and his family.
East High students, many wearing red, were joined by members of Moms Demand Action in asking for legislative action. After holding a rally on the west steps of the Capitol, the students gathered in the Senate gallery and watched as legislators addressed them, according to The Colorado Sun.
State Sen. Tom Sullivan, a Centennial Democrat who represents District 27, directly addressed the students and spoke of his son, Alex.
“Today’s the 554th Friday since my son, Alex, was murdered in the Aurora theater massacre on July 20, 2012,” Sullivan said.
The anger, grief, trauma and sadness that he feels never goes away, he said. He encouraged the students to look to their friends for support, and to remember that their grieving process is for them to decide — not anyone else.
“You need to remember that your friends are out there. That there’s others out there who have been through this just like you’re going through this. And that’s why I came down here, was to try to do everything I can so that I don’t have to see kids like you,” Sullivan said. “You stay with us so that we can get this figured out.”
“We need each and every one of you here,” he added. “Thank you so much for coming down. Keep it up.”
Sullivan is a prime sponsor of two proposed bills related to firearms — House Bill 1219 and Senate Bill 170.
The house bill aims to establish a three-day waiting period to take place before a firearms seller may deliver a firearm to a purchaser.
Senate Bill 170 would expand the list of people who can petition for an extreme risk protection order to include licensed medical care providers, licensed mental health care providers, licensed educators and district attorneys. These protection orders, also referred to as “red flag laws,” result in the temporary confiscation of firearms from a person who poses a safety risk to themselves or others.
These two bills were announced Feb. 23 in addition to two other gun-control bills: Senate Bill 169, which would increase the minimum age requirement to purchase or possess a firearm from 18 to 21 with some exceptions, and Senate Bill 168, which would make it easier to sue firearms manufacturers.
The Denver Post reported that Republican Rep. Mike Lynch, the minority leader of the state House of Representatives, said there will be “as vigorous of an opposition to this as any legislation you’ve seen come through here” and described the legislation as the “biggest single unified effort to attack our Second Amendment rights that we’ve seen, I think, probably in Colorado history.”
The bills are scheduled to be considered by committees the week of March 6.
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