LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A second Michigan school district is banning backpacks on school premises due to concerns about gun violence, this time because a third-grade student was found with a loaded gun.
Grand Rapids Public Schools said in a statement Wednesday that the weapon was discovered this morning at Stocking Elementary School and that it was the fourth time this year that the district has uncovered a student with a handgun — three of them in backpacks.
District Superintendent Leadriane Roby said at a news conference Wednesday that the ban was “a drastic step” that was necessary.
“We have averted at least two tragedies in the last two weeks. We don’t want to stand before you again,” said Larry Johnson, executive director of public safety and school security.
Flint Community Schools banned backpacks beginning May 1, citing a nationwide “increase in threatening behavior and contraband, including weapons, being brought into schools at all levels.”
Flint students are allowed to carry belongings in small purses or clear plastic bags that are subject to being searched. Grand Rapids has not yet announced how its students will carry their books and belongings.
There’s an increased concern over guns in schools in Michigan following a mass shooting by a 15-year-old student at Oxford High School in 2021 that left four students dead and seven others injured.
Ethan Crumbley has pleaded guilty to the shootings. He has said he used a gun that had been purchased for him by his father that had not been secured at home. Investigators believe the gun was stashed in his backpack on the day of the shooting.
A 6-year-old student shot his teacher in Virginia this year using his mother’s 9mm handgun.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed safe storage legislation last month that will require gun owners to keep unloaded firearms in a locked storage box or container when it is “reasonably known that a minor is or is likely to be present on the premises.” The law goes into effect next year.