The Cumberland-North Yarmouth school board unanimously supports a gun safety resolution proposed by the Maine chapter of BeSmart, a national gun safety program.

Ann Sawchuck of Cumberland, a volunteer with the BeSmart campaign launched by the national organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, asked the board to encourage parents in SAD 51 to follow gun safety protocols.

“These actions work to protect our children from gun violence and make our community safer,” Sawchuck said at a meeting last month.

The gun safety resolution, co-signed by the SAD 51 School Board and Cumberland Chief of Police Charles Rumsey, encourages families to follow correct gun safety protocols to ensure the safety of schools and students.

Safety protocols include storing firearms unloaded, locked with a firearm locking device, and in a locked location like a gun storage safe or lockbox. Ammunition should be stored in a separate locked location.

Since 2018, there have been more than 100 school shooting instances in the country each year, according to a 2024 study by the K-12 School Shooting Database. Approximately three-fourths of school shooters acquire their firearm from the home of a parent or close relative, and more than 4 million children live in a home with an unlocked firearm, a 2021 National Firearm Survey reported.


“These are chilling facts,” Sawchuck said.

Last year, the Cumberland-North Yarmouth community learned that Maine is not immune to gun violence, she said.

Not only did the state experience two horrific shootings, in Lewiston and in Bowdoin, but it had one of the highest rates of suicide by firearm in the Northeast, according to the Maine Gun Safety Coalition.

“Maine has a lengthy and rich history of gun ownership for hunting and sport,” Rumsey told The Forecaster. “It just makes it more important that guns be stored properly.

“I think the No. 1 concern specific to the school community is those are homes that have children in them, and children can be naturally curious about things,” he said. “If a child finds an unsecured firearm or ammunition, tragedy can ensue.” 

The town of Cumberland also committed to work with the community to promote awareness around gun safety. Cumberland is also involved with the Sandy Hook Promise Program, which teaches students and adults how to prevent school violence.

Gun storage can be relatively inexpensive, Rumsey said. If gun owners have questions about how to store their equipment safely, they are encouraged to contact the Cumberland Police Department for more information. 

“We have employees that are very knowledgeable and would be happy to talk with folks,” he said.

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