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After the Sal Castro school shooting, readers ask: How does a 12-year-old get access to a gun?

After the Sal Castro school shooting, readers ask: How does a 12-year-old get access to a gun?
Police officers keep an eye as students return to Sal Castro Middle on Friday, the day after a shooting there injured four students. (Los Angeles Times)

This one hit close to home, literally: On Thursday, four students at Sal Castro Middle School west of downtown Los Angeles were injured in what police believe was an accidental shooting. A 12-year-old girl was taken into custody on suspicion of negligently firing a gun.

And perhaps because this shooting took place at a Los Angeles Unified School District campus in a neighborhood with which many readers are surely familiar, most of our letter writers have suggested steps that parents and schools can take to prevent another tragedy instead of engaging in a rhetorical battle on gun control.

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Here are some of their letters.

Long Beach resident Cholena Humphrey wants action by schools and adults:

I think that what is happening in America is appalling and that we are putting our children's lives at risk sending them to school without providing protection for them. We need to install metal detectors, which are non-judgmental and will screen everybody equally at the entrance to all schools to protect our loved ones.

[Parents] fret about allergies and dogs and alcohol and safe sex. But how many of us have “the talk” about guns?


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Blood is being shed at our schools, and losing the life of even one child is too much. We need to protect all our children.

Also, we could teach our children not to resort to guns to handle their problems. They could learn a lot by watching adults work through their difficulties in productive ways.

Michael Wall of Hemet says we can ask schools to do only so much:

Reading of yet another tragic gun incident, my first thought was not about what the school is not doing to safeguard its students. My first reaction was this: Why in the world did this child have access to a loaded gun?

My second reaction: Why is it always the schools' responsibility to safeguard our children from the failures of their parents? Whether it's obesity, homelessness, gangs or abuse, to cure these societal problems we must do a better job identifying and treating the cause of the illness versus merely treating the symptoms.

We are a very sick society. The sooner we own up to this, the sooner we can start healing.

Gun-control activist Barbara King-Wilson of Sherman Oaks encourages parents to talk about firearm safety:

On Thursday, I received a text: "School shooting here in L.A." As of this writing, there have been 14 school shootings across the country this year, many of which could have been prevented.

As parents, we worry about our children's safety constantly. We fret about allergies and dogs and alcohol and safe sex. But how many of us have "the talk" about guns?

The group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched Be SMART, a public education campaign encouraging responsible firearm storage to reduce the number of unintentional shootings by children, suicides, and homicides that occur when children or teens are able to access guns. Volunteers all over California give Be SMART presentations because the responsibility of these tragedies falls on us — the adults — to keep our children safe.

I co-founded the San Fernando Valley local group of Moms Demand Action because there is more we can do to prevent these senseless tragedies.

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