Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal asked residents to consider keeping guns out of their homes in response to a Texas elementary school shooting that left more than 20 people dead Tuesday.
“As a father, community member, and our state’s schools chief, I am making a personal appeal to you today to please reconsider gun possession in your home if you are a gun owner today,” Reykdal said in a statement Tuesday. “In America, the overwhelming data are clear that gun owners and their families are more likely to die by their own gun than they are to use them in self-defense or protection.”
An 18-year-old killed at least 19 children and two adults Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, according to CNN.
The gunman, Salvador Ramos, who also died, entered the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle, Gov. Greg Abbott said in an Associated Press story.
“The tragic events in Texas today are heartbreaking, pathetically consistent, and deeply tragic,” Reykdal wrote. “Today, another domestic terrorist took the lives of school-aged students and at least one educator with a firearm, and I offer my deepest condolences to the families, the community, and every American who is crushed once again by an all too familiar headline.”
Reykdal wrote that Washington enhanced physical safety in its schools by making investments in threat-assessment protocols and interventions, comprehensive school safety plans and procedures in each school, financial commitments to student mental and behavioral health interventions, required training for school safety and security staff and in increasing the number of adults in schools to support students.
“But, make no mistake, the Texas tragedy can still happen here,” he wrote.
Reykdal said in the statement the U.S. has one of the highest gun-density rates in the world, which leads to the highest rates of murder and deaths by suicide from firearms of any industrialized nation.
“The more guns in your community and in your home, the more likely you or a family member will die by gun violence,” he wrote. “Murders, suicides and firearms used in crimes are directly correlated to guns in the home, specifically unsecured firearms.
“I will pray for the families who lost their children today, and I will pray that every parent, guardian, and grandparent in our nation will make the impactful decision to remove or secure deadly firearms within their home.
“There is simply no debate: Our homes are safer when there are no guns inside them.”
Tuesday’s shooting was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, according to the AP. The shooting in Uvalde is also 10 days after a gunman killed 10 Black shoppers and workers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities say was a racist attack.
It was unclear how many people were wounded in Tuesday’s shooting, but the school district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo, said there were “several injuries.”
The shooting in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.