ARKANSAS, USA — The Arkansas chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued a statement in response to the Arkansas School Safety Commission's recommendations for the upcoming school year.
The commission provided a report to Governor Asa Hutchinson after he asked them to reconvene following several mass shootings, including an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and two teachers died.
The recommendations outlined in the report emphasized maintaining an armed presence in every school.
Both groups, who are a part of the Everytown for Gun Safety network, noticed an absence of policies that they say would prevent guns from entering Arkansas schools.
"Students deserve to learn without fearing for our lives, and that means real gun safety solutions, not more guns and more officers in our halls," said Jayce Pollard, a volunteer with the Arkansas Students Demand Action chapter.
Anna Morshedi, a volunteer with the Arkansas Moms Demand Action chapter, said that "increasing the presence of armed personnel in schools does little to prevent gun violence" and that it would be another risk "to the wellbeing of students of color."
Studies have reportedly shown that the best way to protect children and minors from accessing guns is to have a secure way to store firearms.
An estimated 54% of gun owners do not lock all of their guns securely, and as of 2021, at least 4.6 million children lived in a home with at least one unsecured, loaded firearm.
Next week, the Arkansas legislature will return to Little Rock for a special session, during which lawmakers will consider providing $50 million for a school safety grant.
This funding, the group said, could be used to support policies that can help keep guns out of schools— including secure firearm storage and threat assessment programs.
On Tuesday, Gov. Hutchinson said he expects every principal and superintendent to be "reading this interim report assessing what they can do and what they need more resources on."
Not every district has to adopt every recommended policy, but the task force is working with Hutchinson to urge some changes, including locking doors during schools.