Gun Violence and Prevention Assembly Makes Its Way to Damascus

Assistant States Attorney Karen Mooney speaks at a high school about gun safety.

Lauren De Marco via State's Attorney's Office Facebook page

Assistant State’s Attorney Karen Mooney speaks at a high school about gun safety.

Sophia Cooper and JoJo Okrah

   On Sept. 29, Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Karen Mooney visited our school to deliver a message about gun violence and prevention. Earlier this month, MCPS Superintendent of Schools Dr. Monifa B. McKnight and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy sent a joint message to the community describing the gun education assemblies.

   The presentation kicked off with a hard-hitting fact: in 2020 4,142 teens aged 12-17 were either killed or injured by gun violence. Next, students watched a video highlighting survivors of gun violence and those who were affected by it. The presentation sought to show students past the day’s presentation and the statistics to help them understand the human side of the story.    

   “We are doing these [assemblies]  to promote school safety, to educate students” Mooney, Chief of the Gun Prosecution Unit said. “It’s an important issue that everyone should care about.”

   The county has seen a 52.5% increase in incidents involving guns. As of Sept. 26, 932 guns were seized in the county, with 150 of them being ghost guns. The untraceable guns whose parts can be easily purchased by anyone is such an issue in Maryland that this past year, the state legislature passed a law making the possession of ghost guns illegal.

   Mooney stated that any possession of handguns for anybody under the age of 21 is illegal, and for those 16 or above, the state can charge the offender as an adult. An example given by Mooney was that a 19 year old who is in possession of a handgun would generally receive up to 6 months in prison. 

   “In the past school year, we had a number of guns, about a half dozen guns that were recovered from school property,” Director of Public Affairs Lauren De Marco said. “There is a big concern in the State’s Attorney’s office about young folks with guns.”

Generally, students report feeling safe about the effectiveness MCPS’s gun control policies

   “MCPS would control the [gun] threat before it could spread to other schools,” senior Marycela Moran said.

Other students expressed concern for their safety and think that MCPS needs to tighten up their gun policies.

“MCPS doesn’t do a great job at making me feel safe,” senior Ashmita Gurun said. “I feel like [they] just started to teach us about gun safety when it should have been implemented from the beginning.

   Mooney stressed the “see something, say something” rule and reviewed signs to lookout for in friends, classmates or anyone who may be in distress. 

  • Withdrawing suddenly from friends, family and/or activities.
  • Excessive irritability, lack of patience and becoming angry quickly.
  • Bullying in general, including becoming a bully themselves or getting bullied.
  • Experiencing social isolation or chronic loneliness.
  • Thoughts about harming themselves or others.
  • Making direct threats.
  • Bragging about access to guns.
  • Recruiting accomplices.

   Mooney urged students to call 1-833-MD-B-SAFE or visit to report the presence of guns in school and assured everyone that these methods are completely anonymous.