School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: #NursesForGunSafety – Finding Common Ground in Caring About Everyone Else’s Children

#NursesForGunSafety, let’s use this moment to begin a movement that turns our grief and despair into meaningful action to protect our children and our communities. We can come together to promote policies that center safety. Our actions are what stands between the bullets and the children.

There is a difference this time, I hope, I pray, and believe that no one in our country will continue to sit idly by as children and adults are slaughtered in school, at the supermarket, in a movie theatre, a church, a temple, a mosque, a store, the mall, the stoop, the street corner, the playground, the porch, the car, their home. Have I covered all of the spaces, once safe, that have been invaded by gun violence? We need to find common ground to begin to have solution-based actions that center on safety for everyone. 

What are we doing to protect our children, and why are we here if we will not take any action? We cannot stay on the sidelines while our nation’s communities experience daily gun violence. We cannot play it safe because there is nowhere that safety can be guaranteed, especially in our schools. Who are we if we cannot unite as a family of healthcare professionals who are called to do public good and serve all of society?

We must demand the national professional organizations and the scientific communities that represent us take meaningful action. From a public health perspective we have the capability to influence policy at the federal level, yet, we do not amplify our voices. Why not? Please do not stay “hog-tied” to a perceived process. We have no time to wait for monthly executive board meetings to hope that we can get a request for a statement on an agenda.

The whole notion of being apolitical and taking neutral stances is adding to the death toll. What is wrong, is to remain silent in this environment. The death and the mayhem continue, yet large health organizations from across all sectors rarely speak out and make their position known. 

We have a violence issue in our country. We are a violent nation with unfettered access to unsecured weapons that outnumber the citizens of our nation by 100 million. Finding the root causes of the vector of violence is one avenue of research, but we can and must do things simultaneously. 

  • Mandate safe storage of weapons, have them but store them away from children and those who would hurt themselves or others.
  • Demand background check policies are passed and loopholes are closed.
  • Raise the age of legally purchasing long rifle weapons to 21.
  • Finally, passing “Red flag laws,”  will reduce access to weapons for those who choose to cause harm to themselves or others.
  • Demand that Congress listens to the American people, the vast majority are behind these measures because they care about other people’s children as much as their own. Respect our decisions and vote as your constituents have requested
  • Focus on preventing exposure to childhood adversity, including gun violence 

.Changing the narrative from one of gun control to gun safety may sound trite, but as we have learned throughout COVID, words matter. This is not controlling guns, only ensuring those who choose to have firearms safely store them away from children and those who intend to inflict harm on themselves or others. How is that not a shared value? The safety of the person, the family, the community, and the public at large, should be at the center of the policy when it comes to gun legislation. 

When I think of the National Association of School Nurses Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice™ or the Center for Disease Control’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model (WSCC) I am reminded of how the student, family, and community are always at the center of these models of care.

Somehow the push for individual rights over anything else has pushed aside all that we once held important in our country, the needs of the community and especially protecting our children. I am calling on my 5 million nursing colleagues to take meaningful action. We are leaders in healthcare, it’s beyond time we raise our voices as individuals and as nursing organizations to use our influence to change policies and pressure politicians to choose safety over inertia. 



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