The message below was shared with all district families on Jan. 3:
Providing students and staff with a safe educational environment in our schools continues to be our top priority. That is why the White Bear Lake Police Department, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and White Bear Lake Area Schools are teaming up to share an important message about proper gun storage and safety.
At December’s Regular School Board Meeting, representatives from the Be SMART awareness campaign and local law enforcement leaders presented information about a program developed to bring together parents and all adults concerned about kids, guns, and safety.
Last year, more than 350 children in the U.S. gained access to a firearm and unintentionally shot themselves or someone else. In 2021, 22 Minnesotans under the age of 18 were killed by guns, and more than 1,700 guns were stolen across our state that year. When guns are not properly stored, tragedy can strike-whether that means a child finds a firearm and injures or kills themselves (intentionally or unintentionally), or someone steals a gun and uses it to commit a crime.
We ask that you consider following the Be SMART message in your home. It emphasizes the importance of secure gun storage. Consider secure gun storage as an important step you can take to help protect your family, school and community.
Here's what Be SMART stands for:
- Secure all guns in your homes and vehicles.
- Model responsible behavior around guns.
- Ask about unsecured guns in other homes.
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide.
- Tell your peers to Be SMART.
Research shows that secure storage plays a vital role in reducing the risk of gun violence. Preventing children from accessing unsecured firearms is required by Minnesota law. Under Minnesota Statute Section 609 666: "A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who negligently stores or leaves a loaded firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a child is likely to gain access, unless reasonable action is taken to secure the firearm against access by the child."
In addition to following the Be SMART message, you can take action by:
- Learning more at besmartforkids.org
- Watching and sharing the Be SMART educational video
- Sharing Be SMART resources and materials
Thank you for reading this important safety message and for being a partner with us in helping to keep our kids, schools and communities safe.
Chief Hager, WBLPD
Sheriff Fletcher, Ramsey County
Sheriff Starry, Washington County
Superintendent Kazmierczak, White Bear Lake Area Schools