School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Unlocked and Loaded

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Study: 4.6 Million American Kids Live in Homes With Unlocked, Loaded Guns.

A study published in the Journal of Urban Health determined that people who own guns for protection are less likely to store them securely. More than 40% of children under 18 years old are living in homes with firearms that are not stored properly.  The statistics are staggering and troubling.

Kids find guns and unintentionally shoot themselves or others. Unsecured firearms are a leading means of youth suicide. Children also sometimes use their parents’ or caregivers’ guns to commit homicides or mass murders. The 17-year-old student charged with fatally shooting 10 and wounding 13 more at his high school in Sante Fe, Texas, carried out his attack with a shotgun and revolver belonging to his father. A federal analysis of school shootings released in 2004 found that 65 percent of perpetrators used a gun owned by a relative. – Journal of Urban Health

A recent Washington Post article found that over 215,000 children have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine in 1999. In addition, since Columbine, the shooters in at least 145 acts of gun violence at schools have been under the age of 18. The data clearly supports access to weapons increases the prevalence of youth suicide and homicide.

This discussion is about gun safety, not gun control. We can all agree that keeping our children, our students, and our schools safe is a shared value.  “We are not anti-gun: we are anti-bullet holes in our patients,” Esther Choo, a doctor, and professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, replied on Twitter. “Most upsetting, actually, is death and disability from gun violence that is unparalleled in the world.”

Another physician leading this call for firearm safety is Megan Ranney, MD, MPH of Brown University. Dr. Ranney is also the Chief Research Officer for the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM research). “AFFIRM is a non-profit corporation comprised of healthcare leaders and researchers who seek to end the epidemic of gun violence through research, innovation and evidence-based practice.”

Dr. Ranney and Twitter colleagues responded to a derogatory Tweet from the National Rifle Association (NRA).  They called for physicians to “stay in their lane” in response to this position paper published by the American College of Physicians: Reducing Firearm Injuries and Deaths in the United States.

Here is the Tweet that sent the Twittersphere into action, with healthcare professionals from all specialties, including nurses, sharing why gun violence is clearly in all of our lanes:

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You can join the 35,000 plus healthcare professionals who have signed this petition:

Every medical professional practicing in the United States has seen enough gun violence firsthand to deeply understand the toll that this public health epidemic is taking on our children, families, and entire communities.

It is long past time for us to acknowledge the epidemic is real, devastating, and has root causes that can be addressed to assuage the damage. We must ALL come together to find meaningful solutions to this very American problem.

We, the undersigned – physicians, nurses, therapists, medical professionals, and other concerned community members – want to tell you that we are absolutely “in our lane” when we propose solutions to prevent death and disability from gun violence.


Gun violence is a public health emergency and we must do everything in our collective, evidence-based power to keep our children, families, schools, and communities safe. School nurses serve on the front line of school safety. `


Azrael, Deborah, et al. “Firearm Storage in Gun-Owning Households with Children: Results of a 2015 National Survey.” Journal of Urban Health, vol. 95, no. 3, Oct. 2018, pp. 295–304., doi:10.1007/s11524-018-0261-7.

“School Shootings: Should Parents Be Charged for Failing to Lock up Guns Used by Their Kids?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Aug. 2018,


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