Gun violence assembly educates, informs MoCo community


Photo by Naina Giare

Members of the community can call, text or email this hotline to report an anonymous tip about school safety.

According to national data from the Gun Violence Archive, the number of teenagers killed or injured by guns has nearly doubled since 2014 and the number of teenagers involved in unintentional shootings has risen by 44 percent. There are alarming numbers in Montgomery County; 790 illegal guns have been seized this year as of Aug. 14, up nearly 75 percent since 2020, when there were 452 guns seized. In Maryland, it is illegal for anyone to possess a firearm until 21 years of age. In fact, anyone 16 or older found in possession of a gun will be charged as an adult.

In order to combat these concerns, Superintendent of MCPS Schools, Dr. Monifa McKnight, alongside Montgomery County State’s Attorney, John McCarthy, scheduled high school assemblies throughout the fall of 2022. “Students will be provided with information on the law and consequences if broken, strategies for youth to solve problems without weapons or violence, and the importance of vigilance and a ‘see something, say something’ approach. The assemblies will also offer information on how to recognize signs that someone may choose violence to harm themselves or others, the anonymous Maryland Tip Line and the importance of a violence-free community,” McKnight said in a letter posted on the MCPS website.

This came before the Montgomery County Public Safety Committee met on Oct. 31 to discuss the expedited bill 21-22, which would prevent an individual from possessing a firearm within 100 yards of a place of public assembly even when the individual has a wear-and-carry permit from the State of Maryland. This restriction would strengthen current county law, which exempts individuals with permits from the restriction against carrying weapons within 100 yards of places of public assembly.

The gun violence assembly occurred on Oct. 17 during advisory in the auditorium for the juniors and sophomores, while the seniors and freshman participated virtually. The assembly was a result of a partnership between MCPS and States Attorney John McCarthy.

Sophomore Meymuna Oweis said, “I think the message was important but I think the way they executed it, could’ve been better. I liked the information, statistics they gave us but I think that some of the emotional appeal they were trying to influence us with was kind of useless because we should just use the statistics and make decisions based off of that. I think the emotional appeal stuff was kind of a waste of time cause we just kept repeating it over and over again.”

Ninth grade administrator Stephanie Labbe organized the gun violence assembly event. “I think you always take a chance having an assembly with such a large student body and an important topic. I think by having classes experience the assembly in smaller groups it gave an opportunity for group discussion of the topic. I think all students received important information on the seriousness of guns. This is not a message that just Wootton students received. All MCPS high schools received this assembly so they hope that as an MCPS community we dedicate ourselves to being vigilant.The assembly was based on facts and data. I hope that students realize that if they see something they should say something is not just a phrase but an action that can keep us all safe. The importance of informing students and the MCPS community on the rise of guns and gun violence in MCPS. This is our community and I want to ensure as much as possible I help do my part in keeping it safe.”