The decision to ban backpacks came after Flint Community Schools Superintendent Kevelin Jones announced last month that the district would also be barring backpacks starting May 1. Representation image. Photo: Target

After a third-grade student was found to be in possession of a loaded gun, a second school district in Michigan prohibited students from bringing backpacks onto the premises.

Grand Rapids Public Schools said on Wednesday morning that Stocking Elementary School was the location of the weapon's discovery.

This was the fourth occurrence of its kind this year in which a student was discovered in possession of a firearm. Three of the weapons were discovered inside of bags.

The decision to prohibit backpacks followed the announcement made last month by Flint Community Schools Superintendent Kevelin Jones that the system would likewise forbid bags beginning on May 1.

During a news conference Wednesday, Grand Rapids Public Schools District Superintendent Leadriane Roby said that the ban was "a drastic step" that was necessary.

"We have averted at least two tragedies in the last two weeks. We don't want to stand before you again," said Larry Johnson, executive director of public safety and school security, Fox News reported.

Grand Rapids has not yet specified how it will permit students to transport their goods and books.

Students in Flint are permitted to transport personal items in tiny handbags or transparent plastic bags. All bags are open to inspection.

Backpacks had previously been prohibited in Flint Community Schools, according to a prior statement, because of a countrywide "increase in threatening behavior and contraband, including weapons, being brought into schools at all levels."

The district had, according to Jones' letter dated Apr. 27, "reached a point where we must make difficult decisions."

"At Flint Community Schools, we are doing all that we can to create a safe and secure environment for our scholars, families, teachers and staff," Jones said.

"As a district, we are taking a 360-degree approach to create safe spaces for children's academic journeys. To that end, we have reached a point where we must make difficult decisions and ask our school community to demonstrate flexibility, understanding and a shared sense of urgency when it comes to safety," he added.

The superintendent said backpacks specifically made the opportunity to conceal a weapon easier for potential bad actors.

"Across the country, we have seen an increase in threatening behavior and contraband, including weapons, being brought into schools at all levels," Jones said.

"Backpacks make it easier for students to hide weapons, which can be disassembled and harder to identify or hidden in pockets, inside books or under other items," he continued.

And: "Clear backpacks do not completely fix this issue. By banning backpacks altogether and adding an increased security presence across the district, we can better control what is being brought into our buildings."

At Oxford High School in 2021, there were four fatalities and seven injuries from a shooting. The gunman was a student who was 15 years old.

On the day of the incident, according to investigators, Ethan Crumbley, who pled guilty to carrying out the shooting, hid his revolver in his backpack. Authorities claimed that the pistol, which his father had bought for him, was not properly secured at home.

Separately, after a massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 pupils and two teachers dead, school districts all around Texas started forcing students to use clear backpacks.

Last month, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation requiring gun owners to keep weapons unloaded and in a closed storage box or container when it is "reasonably known that a minor is or is likely to be present on the premises."

It takes effect the following year.

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