Mission CISD implements new gun safety program

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The following article was originally posted on the Progress Times website. You can view the original article here: https://www.progresstimes.net/2021/11/22/mission-cisd-implements-new-gun-safety-program/

Following an incident in which a high school student brought a gun to campus, Mission CISD is administering district-wide changes to ensure student and staff safety.

On Nov. 1, Mission police arrested a Mission High School student after discovering a firearm in his backpack. The weapon was loaded, but the student did not use it on campus. Since the incident occurred, MCISD increased safety measures to ensure the situation does not happen again.

Superintendent Dr. Carol Perez emailed families explaining some of the new safety response systems the district would implement. One of the immediate changes is the increased use of random handheld metal detectors at the junior highs and high schools. And as of Nov. 17, MCISD implemented GRASP – Gun Responsibility Awareness Safety Program.

GRASP is a local non-profit organization 16-year-old Roman Camargo created out of his fear of guns in schools when he was 13 years old. The program works to teach gun safety from the root of the issue — parental responsibility. Camargo and his mother Hortencia Camargo gave a presentation on GRASP at the Nov. 10 Mission board of trustees meeting.

“If the gun is at school, they 100 percent come from unsecured guns at home. Once mom and dad realize everybody is safer,” Hortencia said. “The world becomes automatically safer when we acknowledge and accept that there is a reason — a fault — why a gun ended up in school grounds. And, regretfully, that fault lays on the adult parent, the gun owner.”

Camargo created two types of presentations for GRASP — one for the kids and one for their parents. A portion of the kids’ presentation allows them to assign a letter grade to their gun-owning parents on how responsible they are with their weapons at home. Hortencia said she has had many parents, namely fathers, fail with an “F” grade because they don’t properly secure their firearms. But following the GRASP presentation, adults have vowed to be an “A” parent.

“You have a right to bear arms but with that right comes a fierce obligation to secure them,” Hortencia said. “And that’s what we want to teach in our program.”

The kids’ session tries to present the information in a fun and memorable way, while the adults’ session takes on a more serious tone. The MCISD superintendent said the reason she chose to implement GRASP instead of other programs was because of how and what the content conveys.

“This is a very unique program because it goes to the root of the issue — how to help families, teaching them about gun safety,” Perez said. “In our world of education, when a child falls behind or is having issues with academics, we provide intervention. We teach, we reteach. But when it comes to gun responsibility and awareness and safety, it can’t happen after the fact. And I had not come across a program that provides that intensive intervention in a fun, meaningful way for children. But in adults, it reaches the heart and the mind.”

The district will hold GRASP sessions at various schools following the Thanksgiving holiday, starting with the secondary schools. But the superintendent said she wants the program to be ongoing to give every child and parent the opportunity to attend.

In the email sent to parents and guardians following the Nov. 1 incident, Perez stated that some of the safety adjustments will be a combination of confidential, highly visible and less visible. But the MCISD community can expect changes throughout the coming weeks.

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