Ferndale School Board Passes Resolution Against Gun Violence
(Elizabeth Schanz, March 18, 2023)
Ferndale, Oak Park, Royal Oak Township, and Pleasant Ridge – Ferndale School District Board of Education passed a resolution that declares gun violence as a public health crisis and issues support for the passage of gun safety legislation and appropriations for the state of Michigan.
The school district’s resolution mirrors gun safety discussions across the state at personal, local and governmental levels. The resolution demonstrated that the school will continue to promote safety internally while pushing for large external changes at the overarching state level.
“I think it is important to be able to reasonably say to our school district community, we absolutely value your safety and here are the ways we are willing to work with lawmakers to support your students’ safety,” said Sandra Dukhie the President of Ferndale Public Schools Board of Education.
The anti-gun resolution outlines goals that the Ferndale Board of Education will take to ensure that the district can help to tackle conversations around gun safety. Some measures include advising the Superintendent to send out information to families about safe firearm storage and safety as well as initiating conversations around these issues.
“Being able to tell students, staff and the school district community that their students are being educated in a gun free zone, or knowing that a person has to be 21 and pass a background check plus wait seven days, is reassuring,” Dukhie said.
Additionally, the resolution from Ferndale Public Schools acts as a call to action to local and state governments in an attempt “to seek the swift and decisive passing of legislation and accompanying appropriations.”
Some provisions that the resolution advocates for include “declaring 100 feet surrounding all daycares, preschools, K-12 schools, and colleges, gun-free zones, requiring a person to be the age of 21 before purchasing any firearm, including any assault-style weapon and bulk ammunition, prohibiting the open carry of firearms.”
Measures like these come as people re-examine gun policies across the state. The conversation was reignited following two school shootings within 15 months: Michigan State University on Feb. 13, 2023 and Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021 which initiated many protests and movements for further action.
On Mar. 16, Democrats in the Michigan Senate passed an 11-bill gun safety package that will be sent to the Democrat-controlled House. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the bill.
The gun reform package will change many current gun policies set by the state. The bill includes an extreme risk protection order, also known as red flag laws. These laws make is so that friends, family, medical professionals and officials like police or judges can petition for people who exhibit violent or mentally unstable behavior to have their guns taken away temporarily.
Additionally, the current laws only require background checks for individuals purchasing handguns, however the new legislation would require anyone producing a rifle or firearm to undergo a background check. The bill would provide for safe storage laws requiring that guns must be stored and locked in situations where children would have access to the gun.
Many people are hopeful about what gun reform legislation could mean for safety within the state.
“I consider all Ferndale students, my students, my family and knowing that the threat of gun violence is always looming is terrifying, especially when there are some feasible measures that can be implemented with very little lifting,” Dukhie said.
Dukhie hopes that heightened focus on gun safety and new policies from the state can help school districts create a more secure environment. Schools could obtain resources such as alarms, locks, updated security cameras, construction for building security if the Michigan government requires “an appropriation to fund public school gun safety measures.”
“(Funds can go to) trauma informed crisis intervention and increased staffing; restorative justice training and increased staffing; cognitive behavioral therapy for at risk students; safe community passages, etc.,” Duhkie said.
Potentially, these funds could help school districts continue to work on security projects that they have been working towards. At the school district level, Ferndale Public Schools has conducted a security audit leading to increased safey measures. Including classroom locks that can be engaged in an emergency.
Additionally, the district is currently working on installing security vestibules in each building. The security vestibules aim to protect the multiple building entrances. This creates an area between the exterior door and the interior of the building where visitors can enter into. Visitors can then be cleared for entry by front door employees that can ensure identification. This can create more secure entry ways.
While the gun reform policies by the Michigan state legislature remain in progress, Ferndale Public School Board of Education remains committed to the safety of their students and helping to promote for a safer future for all. Learn more about Ferndale Schools at https://www.ferndaleschools.org/.