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CPS students ask School Board for more gun violence prevention measures

Four students from Hickman and Battle high schools asked the Columbia School Board to install metal detectors at their schools and implement more safety measures against gun violence.

“We are not immune to gun violence in Columbia Public Schools,” Karli Jones, a Hickman freshman and organizer of the group Students for Change, said Monday evening.

During public comment, the group — including Opal Weber and Taylor Lee of Hickman and Leslie Navarro of Battle — presented a petition that called for an improved districtwide safety plan. It would include the introduction of metal detectors at entrances to their schools, emails instructing parents how to properly lock up guns and trauma kits in classrooms. As of 10 p.m. Monday, the petition had 224 signatures.

The call for increased school safety came on the four-year anniversary of a mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school. Seventeen people died, including 14 students.

The students presenting the petition expressed feelings of fear or concern about the district’s current preparation for an active shooter situation or past responses to potential threats.

They cited Hickman’s Homecoming dance last fall, which ended 15 minutes early after rumors of a student having a gun circulated, according to KOMU. “Although this rumor has no credibility, we wanted to make you aware of the situation and let you know that the school is taking this incident seriously,” Hickman Principal Tony Gragnani said in an email to parents in September.

Weber recounted her own experience that evening. “Even though there was no gun found, it still felt very real to us,” she said. “We are not alone when we say we are scared and we want changes made.”

Navarro said it was important to have trauma kits in classrooms and to train teachers how to provide aid to students in critical condition. Lee, a freshman, said she has experienced three gun threats in her high school experience.

“The threat is real, the danger is real,” Lee said.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.