Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Preventing school incidents starts at home

For the third time since the beginning of the year, a Crossroads school has experienced an incident involving a student on campus with a gun.

In January, a seventh-grader at Patti Welder Middle School was found with an unloaded handgun. In February, a student at Jackson-Roosevelt Elementary School in Port Lavaca brought an unloaded BB gun to school. Then, March 7, an unloaded handgun was found in the backpack of a third-grade student at Chandler Elementary School.

Once again, Victoria parents experienced the fear associated with hearing the words "gun" and "school" in the same sentence. And once again, Victoria Independent School District officials responded quickly and efficiently to deal with the possible threat and protect their students.

The weapon was found by the student's teacher, who noticed the student was holding his backpack in a suspicious way, according to a statement from Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor. No ammunition was found during the search. We applaud the teacher and other VISD officials for once again acting quickly to secure the weapon and ensure any possible threat is stopped. Thankfully, school resource officers who responded to the incident said the student seemed more curious about the gun than interested in harming someone. However, that curiosity raises an important issue that must be addressed.

We know this is Texas, and guns are an accepted part of our state culture. The right to bear arms is a treasured right here, but that right must come with some common sense. We have to wonder how these students, especially a third-grader, are gaining access to these weapons at home. Parents who own guns have a responsibility to keep those weapons where their children cannot reach them, and they should also ensure that children understand how dangerous guns are. Handguns in particular are easy to conceal in a pocket, purse or backpack and specifically designed for self defense against a person while shotguns and rifles are much larger and can be more versatile tools for hunting.

When it comes to preventing students from bringing weapons to school, the first line of defense is at home. Schools are in a purely reactionary position. Parents must be proactive and educate their children about any weapons in the house, the associated dangers and why they are not allowed in schools. Parents must also take the initiative to talk with their children and be involved in their lives. The more you talk with your children, the better you will know them and can protect them by teaching right from wrong.

We hope we have seen the last of students bringing weapons to school. But just in case we haven't, we are glad to know that VISD is still ready to take action to protect our children. We hope parents will also take this as an opportunity to educate their children on gun safety and make sure that weapons cannot be accessed. The stakes are too high not to.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.