OPL Responds: Mass Shootings, Community Violence, and School Safety

We’ve compiled a list of resources that will cover grief/fear/trauma, speaking to your children about traumatic events, gun laws, advocacy, and safety info. We hope you find this helpful.

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After last month’s tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, student activists brought the gun debate to a national level by pressuring lawmakers to make changes.

There are many different aspects attached to the mass community violence that have been dominating the national and local news for decades. What do you need to know? We’ve compiled a list of resources that will cover grief/fear/trauma, speaking to your children about traumatic events, gun laws, advocacy, and safety info. We hope you find this helpful.


Parents & Caregivers: Talking to Children about Traumatic Events

When getting ready to speak to your children about these issues, it is important to remember that everybody processes grief and traumatic events differently. Here are some resources that provide helpful tips on this delicate subject:

  • NPR, with help from the National Association of School Psychologists, has come up with a quick primer on how to talk to your children about tragic news. Read it here.
  • For a more detailed list of tips on talking to your children, click here for information from the National Association of School Psychologists (available in ten different languages).
  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has tips on helping your teens after disasters.
  • For help on speaking to your children with autism about tragedy, click here.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips on helping children with disabilities cope with disaster and traumatic events.
  • For other special populations, click here for more info from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

If you are experiencing effects of grief and trauma, or are concerned with how traumatic events are impacting you, click here to learn more about warning signs and how to cope with distress.

The Disaster Distress Helpline, offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a 24/7 national hotline for crisis counseling. Call 1-800-985-5990 to connect with a trained crisis counselor or click here to learn more.


Learn More: Gun Laws & Policies

Gun policies vary from state to state. Reading about them can get overwhelming, but Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence offers comprehensive summaries of federal, state, and local firearm laws and policies.

Read more about California’s gun laws here. Here is a bulleted summary of some select policies in California. Among many other things, California:

  • Requires all gun sales to be processed through a licensed dealer, requiring a background check
  • Bans most assault weapons and .50 caliber rifles, and prohibits the sale, transfer, manufacture, and possession of large capacity ammunition magazines
  • Limits purchases of new handguns to one per person per month
  • Imposes a ten-day waiting period prior to the sale or transfer of a firearm
  • Maintains permanent records of firearm sales
  • Gives local law enforcement discretion to deny a license to carry a concealed weapon
  • Allows concerned family members to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a loved one who is found to pose a clear danger to the public or their own safety during a mental crisis (Gun Violence Restraining Order)


Take Action: Support, Know Your Rights, and Demonstrate

There are many organizations working to prevent and end gun violence. Here are just a couple that you can learn more about:

Call and write your senators and representatives to urge them to support candidates and legislation that are working for what you believe in. Find out who represents you in Congress here.

Today, thousands of students across the country participated in National School Walkout. Emboldened by the protest movement against gun violence, students walked out of their classrooms for 17 minutes at 10:00 a.m. this morning.

Next Saturday, March 24, March for Our Lives, the largest national march to end gun violence will be taking place across the country. In Oakland, the march will begin at 10:00 a.m. at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. Click here for more details. To see where others in the Bay Area will be marching, search here.

If you are a student, be sure to know your rights before demonstrating.


School Safety 

SAMHSA has a robust list of school violence prevention resources to make schools safer.

The National Education Association also has a list of resources, as well as reports and information for educators, families, and communities on school violence prevention and school safety. Click here to learn more.

On March 10, 2018, President Trump unveiled a controversial plan for school safety by vowing to arm teachers, and backed off on his initial plan to raise the minimum age to purchase some guns from 18 to 21. Read The Washington Post article here to learn more about it.



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