School safety officers urge parents to talk gun safety with their children

By: Trishna Begam Email
By: Trishna Begam Email

News 12 This Morning / Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As Chief Patrick Clayton takes inventory of confiscated weapons from students, it's hard to tell which guns are fake and which guns are real.

"That's what we really fear -- that there will be an accidental discharge. Some child will be seriously hurt or worse," said Chief Clayton. "We had a kid a couple of years ago, an 11-year-old who brought a .357 magnum loaded to school. He just wanted to show his classmates."

It's a worry parents like Elizabeth Roswich have with the recent mass shootings and local gun violence.

Roswich, a mother of two middle school students, explained, "Of course it concerns me as a parent, but I think it starts at home. You have to sit at home talk to your kids about gun safety."

Clayton added, "I think everybody with of some of the shooting situations you've had in the country, it's on the forefront of a lot of people's mind."

In the past three years, the numbers from the Richmond County School Board show safety officers confiscating fewer weapons:
-2009-2010 school year: 5
-2010-2011 school year: 7
-2011-2012 school year: 3

This means 15 guns in total over a three-year period. Most of them were on school grounds for petty reasons.

"They were trying to impress their peers trying to look cool," Clayton said. "They just wanted to show a weapon. The number is very low in reality, but any amount is too much."

Fortunately, the school district hasn't experienced a serious threat.

"We haven't had those kinds of things here, thank God," Clayton said.

Officers still prepare for the worst at the beginning of the school year.

"Two weeks ago we trained at four different high schools with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department in an active shooting to deal with these situations," Clayton added.

Parents like Roswich take their own precautions.

"My kids have all had gun safety with their granddad, who is an avid hunter," she said. "They know guns are never a toy."

While there are cameras surrounding the school and people patrolling the halls, Clayton wants parents monitor what their children are putting in their book bags at home, so guns, real or fake, don't end up at school.

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