Classroom photo by Elizabeth Albert / Flickr

This past month, Kidsburgh and NEXTpittsburgh asked readers to share their opinions on school safety issues, including gun control.

The issue has sparked conversations at all levels. A clear response was the organization of teen activists across the country who demonstrated last weekend in the March For Our Lives.

Here are the results from our survey, which generated hundreds of responses via each publication and quite a few thoughtful comments as well.

Thanks to Ben Hilldorfer and Austin Naden from Echo Strategies for their help with the survey and results.

Our survey participants were 86 percent female, with 47 percent between the ages of 35 and 44. Sixty-four percent of participants identified themselves as parents.

Some survey participants suggested looking to other countries as examples of how stronger gun laws could help:

  • “Do exactly what Britain, Australia and other civilized countries did years ago in response to gun violence. They don’t have mass shootings anymore because people can’t get guns.”
  • “I don’t care what anyone says; this is a simple issue. Make any type of wide-ban on certain types of firearms from this country and you will see a decrease in violent gun deaths. See UK, Germany, Japan and Australia for examples.”

Others believe more attention to mental health issues could be a preventative measure toward mass shootings in schools:

  • “Embrace single-payer health care so that health and mental health are supported for everyone. Make the equivalent of a ‘Safe Hunter’ course mandatory for middle school.”
  • “The decline of community and family has contributed to this, so there needs to be reinvestment in strengthening community and family relationships.
  • “Good relationships for young people is key. We need to be honest about the struggles of young people and how they should manage. Also educating people on keeping guns locked and away from young people is of utmost importance. Lack of access is the best deterrent.”

Many responded with a call to update gun laws, address gun safety and abandon assault rifles:

  • “Two-prong (approach). Address banning of military-style weapons. There’s no reason why a civilian should have access to assault rifles. If they want to own a military-style rifle, join the military. You can’t just go buy a tank or a nuclear missile, why be able to buy an assault rifle. Another prong of the problem is mental illness. People with mental illness shouldn’t have access to guns, and we need to take seriously reports of mental illness and reduce the stigma of asking for help.”
  • “Repeal and replace the 2nd Amendment with something for the 21st century, not the 18th.”
  • “Implement common-sense gun control including stricter background checks and minimum requirements for purchasing a gun (for example, need references), start a buy-back program for assault-style weapons, prosecute parents whose guns are not responsibly stored so that kids get access to them, acknowledge that the majority of mass shootings are perpetrated by white males and start addressing the culture of toxic masculinity.”
  • “Through comprehensive and thoughtful gun ownership and control. Control over who can own, what types of guns, gun safety and required locks on guns, gun ownership training, etc. I think mass shootings need to be addressed comprehensively — not just in schools.”

Additional school safety measures also had their place:

  • “Have trained, armed security at every school. Look into safety measures like bulletproof pods to be present in every classroom.”
  • “Bulletproof glass on windows, metal detectors at entrances, security cameras and visitors must be approved to enter. Electronic ID cards that let students into each room they need to be in so other people don’t come in. Armed security guards and security cameras. Do not arm teachers.”
  • “I believe paying security officers, not teachers, who have work experience dealing with gun violence should be on staff. Secure doors for entrance to and from schools is a necessary investment in a step towards school safety.”

Thanks to all for participating in the survey.

NEXT staff

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.