NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s the worst-case scenario for everyone involved. Lt. Jason Picanzo, with the Metro Nashville Police Department, shared his biggest fear, “I dread the day I get the phone call that something happened at a school with a firearm.”

Picanzo explained that this school year already, nine firearms have been brought to Metro Nashville Public Schools. That’s up from eight for the entire school year of 2019-2020 when students were last in class pre-pandemic. “We’ve had three guns found in elementary schools. We’ve had two guns found in middle schools, and we’ve had four guns found in high schools this year.”

The exact reason for the increase is unclear but police suspect it has to do with the 1,307 firearms stolen from vehicles in 2021. “It’s creating more firearms available for juveniles to get their hands on,” explained Picanzo.

Adding to the danger, most of the weapons have ammunition. “Pretty much all of them have ammunition with them and are loaded firearms,” Picanzo said.

He explained younger students primarily bring a gun to school to show off to friends. “What we see with elementary age is parents won’t properly secure the firearms. And so, it’s easy for the child to get the gun.”

But with older students, “90% of the time, it’s for protection. As a city, we have to look back and say, okay, what are we doing to make this child feel like they need a firearm, in their possession to be safe? It’s not the school anymore. What’s going on at home?” Picanzo said.

It’s a question Metro police say the entire community should ask and help answer.

“What resources does, not just that child need, but the mother, and the father, the family, the grandparents, the other kids that are in the home, so that we can help them feel safer,” Picanzo said.

Crime in school is evolving and educators are concerned – News 2 is investigating what school districts are doing about it. Find more special reports on Crime in School on WKRN.com.

He added it’s only with full commitment from the community that cycles of crime can end by engaging and educating so every student has the opportunity to safely learn and thrive. “We’re begging everyone in the community to help us with this problem — because we, as a police department alone, cannot solve it.”