Parents return to DMUSD board to ask for assault weapons ban in district resolution

Parents came before the Del Mar Union School board on June 27 again requesting that the district take a stronger stance in its safety resolution and call for an outright ban on assault weapons.

The DMUSD board passed a resolution in April that deleted the language regarding an outright ban on “semi-automatic weapons” as well as a ban on high capacity magazines, bump stocks and any other equipment, alteration or modification that would increase a firearm’s capacity for ammunition or rate of fire.

In a lengthy discussion, the majority of the board had concerns that calling for a ban on semi-automatic weapons, the language proposed to them in April, was too broad and outside of their mandate as a school board.

Neighboring districts such as San Dieguito, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Cardiff and San Diego Unified all passed resolutions that included a ban on semi-automatic weapons. Others have passed resolutions with an assault weapons ban, including California school districts in Chula Vista, Long Beach and Campbell, as well as school districts in Ohio, Virginia, Nebraska, Iowa and Florida.

Solana Beach also took its resolution a step further and adopted an amended community safety resolution that called on the 22nd District Agricultural Association, as the board of directors for the Del Mar Fairgrounds, to discontinue hosting gun shows at the fairgrounds.

Del Mar Heights parent Gary Brice urged the board to revisit its resolution and adopt the language other districts had. He said something is not right when his 10-year-old son is expressing fears about getting shot in school.

“This is not a second amendment issue, this is school safety issue,” Brice said. “There will be more gun shootings at schools. Is it worth the risk for this board not to act on it?”

His comment was followed by an extended amount of applause from the parents in the crowd.

During public comment, parents and a representative from San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention said they were not only upset that the board “shied away from a ban” but that the resolution also included language that appeared to promote working with gun-owner organizations. Parents asked for the district to remove the section of the resolution that states the district will work with “a broad spectrum of local community stakeholders, local law enforcement, and gun owner organizations, to develop and provide educational opportunities as described by the CA attorney general, law enforcement and other organizations on firearm safety including but not limited to the rules for children and proper firearm storage.”

Brice said any education on gun safety should be done by parents or law enforcement.

In June, DMUSD President Kristin Gibson had stated “loudly and emphatically” that under no circumstances would any gun ownership organization be invited into the classrooms.

“The language of the resolution does not say anything about gun training occurring in classrooms,” Gibson said

Gibson said they would take no further action on the resolution last month and at the June 27 meeting reported that she had followed up with many parents via email as she continues research into the issue of potential language of an assault weapons ban in the resolution.

“As this board has said, we believe that we can ask our legislators to enforce stricter controls but it is not our area of expertise to state specifically what those controls should be,” Gibson said.

Del Mar’s resolution does demand action from state and federal representatives regarding the sale, transfer, possession, manufacturing, and distribution of all firearms, dangerous weapons and ammunition. Stricter controls referenced in the resolution include comprehensive and thorough background checks of all purchases of firearms as well as reasonable waiting periods and mandated training in the safe use of guns.

Gibson said she is checking with California Department of Education, the California School Boards Association and Sandy Hook Promise to ask for advice and opinions on the involvement of school boards in these resolutions.

Kristen Panebianco, a Torrey Hills School parent and member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said she has sent alternative language on an assault weapon ban to Superintendent Holly McClurg and trustees Stephen Cochrane and Erica Halpern and discussed the topics with trustee Scott Wooden during an in-person meeting.

Supporters plan to return to the board in July with the hopes that the issue can be resolved.

“In between the examples from school boards and the community’s reaction to our plea at the board meeting as well as the May meeting and in emails and petitions to the board, we hope the board can feel confident that the changes are necessary,” Panebianco wrote in an email to the board following the meeting. “We again request that you add this to the next meeting agenda and represent the wishes of your community by making the two changes before sending this document on to our state and federal officials.”

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