DENVER — Last Wednesday, a third grader in Denver brought an airsoft gun to school, his friend fired it four times and injured another student in the 35th gun-related incident at Denver Public Schools (DPS) so far this year, the superintendent said.
"It’s every day something is up," said DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero. "This academic year has been truly something I haven’t seen my entire career."
At a school board meeting last Monday, Marrero told board members that guns on campus are the most concerning issue facing the district -- and one he wants candidates for Denver's mayor to address.
"I’m looking to make sure that our soon-to-be mayor understands the severity of the issue that we’re dealing with in and around our schools, which is our most vulnerable population," he said in an interview with 9NEWS.
Marrero said eight of the 35 gun incidents involved real, loaded weapons. While none of the students in possession of them were targeting other students, he called it a "ticking time bomb."
"Those are eight too many situations that could’ve turned tragic," he said. "And that’s leaps and bounds beyond the numbers that we saw last year."
Marrero said the access youth have to guns is what concerns him most – and it's not just a DPS problem. He said it's a city and state-wide issue that's also appearing in other urban school districts across the country.
He thanked Denver's Police Department and Mayor Michael Hancock for their commitment to work to find a solution and said he wants the legislature to weigh-in as well. "I’m saying that I need help to ensure that we have less of these incidents," he said.
Marrero said he hopes there's an appetite for gun control legislation following the elections this November that gave Democrats a wider majority at the state capitol.
He said he wants to pursue any avenue he can – including lobbying mayoral candidates, legislative changes and parental engagement.
"Our young people are counting on us to find a solution," he said.
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