Show cover of A Safe Place with Luis Aponte

A Safe Place with Luis Aponte

Author and filmmaker, Luis Aponte explores solutions with in-depth research and interviews with experts on how communities can help prevent the next school shooting. Sign up for updates on Luis's book, "A Safe Place: Imagining Schools without Gun Violence" at


Promoting Mental Health and Preventing Suicide
Happy Valentines Day. This is episode 13 and today is a special day. It’s more than just a day in which we run out at the last minute to buy flowers, a card, and a gourmet box of chocolates for that special person in our lives. It is also a day of reflection. Today, for many people in South Florida, Valentine’s Day 2024 is the 6th anniversary of the Parkland mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On this day, 6 years ago, while teenagers were exchanging Valentine’s Day cards and giving flowers to their loved ones, a 19-year old former student arrived at the school in an Uber around 2:19 PM, armed with a legally-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. According to reports, the attack lasted less than four minutes, leaving 17 dead and 17 injured.One incredible person and non-profit organization that is making a great difference to help prevent adverse outcomes like suicide and violence in schools is Mr. Scott LoMurray. He is the CEO of Sources of Strength – an organization that provides evidence-based training for youth and adults to promote mental health and prevent adverse outcomes like suicide, violence, bullying, and substance misuse.
30:58 2/15/24
Community Partnerships & Sammy the Sasquatch
This is podcast #12 and I am thrilled to welcome back School Emergency Management Expert, Trauma Informed Practices Consultant, former Reserve Law Enforcement Officer, and children's book author, Claire Marie!In today's episode, Claire educates us how bringing community partners together has been critical to keeping kids and parents trauma-informed, prepared, and calm during emergencies and other unexpected events. I hope you enjoy this episode and find it helpful. Share it with anyone you know who has children in school and make sure to check out Claire Marie's books, Sammy the Sasquatch: Welcome to Crittertopia (In English & Spanish!) and Sammy the Sasquatch: Adventures in Safety.
20:31 11/2/23
There Are No School Shootings on U.S. Military Bases
I was privileged to interview Mr. Will Griffin, Director of Communications at DoDEA. He graciously accepted my invitation to answer a few questions related why school shootings never happen on military bases.  I hope you find this helpful and inspiring.
18:18 10/29/23
Florida’s Open Carry Law
On July 1st, 2023, Florida House Bill (HB) 543 went into effect. This is a law signed by Florida governor and U.S. presidential candidate, Ron Desantis which allows Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a government-issued permit. In other words, you no longer have to prove competency that you know how to use a firearm safely.The real questions are these: 1. Does this law make the public safer, or does it place innocent lives in more danger?2. Now that anyone can carry a concealed weapon with no required training in Florida and 25 other states, does that support law enforcement to protect the public, or does it make their job that much more difficult?3. Finally, does Ron Desantis’ House Bill (HB) 543 really strengthen 2nd Amendment rights, or is it potentially giving responsible gun owners a bad name?You decide. Please sign and share my petition on This is a petition to support funding for a comprehensive, independent, and nonpartisan scholarly study on school gun violence with a $.01 excise tax on every bullet sold to civilians for only one year.#ASafePlaceBook #SchoolShootings #GunViolence #Florida #GunLaws #PermitlessCarry #RonDesantis #ResponsibleGunOwnership #CurrentEvents
11:58 7/6/23
Free Gun Locks at a Public Library
In today's episode, I share with you some free gun locks I was able to get from my local public library . Gun locks are an easy way in which we can all help save lives by keeping them out of the hands of minors and anyone contemplating suicide. This free program was made possible through the city of Alexandria, Virginia's gun lock program and other suicide prevention efforts.Public libraries give out free COVID tests, masks, Band-Aids, voting registrations, and tax forms. Why not gun locks too, right? Especially when it is in the interest of enhancing public safety.I hope you find this video helpful. Please share this with anyone you think may benefit from it. Here are the related links I promised you:Sources:Ethan's Law: Lock & Talk statewide suicide prevention initiative: Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern (SPAN) Virginia: 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
12:34 6/27/23
Female School Shooters, LGBTQ & Wizards of Oz
Today's episode focuses on the recent Covenant School mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee and the misinformation campaign focusing on the shooter's transgender identity, instead of focusing on how he legally came into possession of the real causes of the shooting and how he obtained an AR-15 military-style rifle, a 9 mm Kel-Tec SUB2000 pistol caliber carbine, and a 9 mm Smith and Wesson M&P Shield EZ 2.0 handgun .Always demand proof and consider the source whenever the Wizards of Oz make outlandish claims that are not verified. If you need help, ask your local public librarian for credible sources.  Make sure to sign and share my petition to petition on to create a comprehensive, independent, and non-partisan scholarly study to prevent future acts of gun violence in schools.  Your support is always greatly appreciated. Together, we can transform schools into a safe place for children and educators without politics. This is about Americans coming together to save lives. We are one nation!
16:49 4/18/23
Claire Marie, Author of Sammy the Sasquatch: Welcome to Crittertopia
Today's special guest is children’s author and former reserve Law Enforcement officer Claire Marie.  Her work spans across school emergency preparedness & management, school safety & prevention systems, non-profits, the private sector, and law enforcement mental health and wellness. She is also the author of Sammy the Sasquatch; Welcome to Crittertopia.  Sammy the Sasquatch and her friends in Crittertopia gently teaches kids all about doing school lockdowns, locks, lights, out of sight, and how kids can be empowered to keep themselves safe. I learned so much from Claire and how we as a community can help keep kids safe in schools by normalizing and empowering kids to prepared for emergencies in a safe environment.Pre-order Claire Marie's book now at @WelcomeToCrittertopiaFacebook: Search "Sammy & Friends"LinkedIn: Claire@sammyandfriends.comPhone: (541) 288 - 1203#ASafePlaceBook #SammyTheSashquatch #LockdownDrills #Lockdowns #SchoolShootings #ActiveShooterDrill #ActiveShooter #LuisAponte #ClaireMarie
25:42 4/9/23
My Birthday Request
In order to maintain positive mental health, I try to focus on at least 3 positive things I am grateful for in my life.  Four of my top list are:#1 – The love of my wife #2 – My Health #3 – My awesome job #4 – My creative outlets For my birthday, I have only two requests:#1 - Please consider making a donation to "" and “, two wonderful nonprofit organizations doing amazing things to keep kids safe in schools. #2 - Please sign and share my new petition on you so much for spending a few minutes with me on my birthday. I hope you have an amazing day and look forward to having you back soon. We are one nation!
17:05 3/15/23
I've Been Published!
Today is episode #5 of "A Safe Place" and I am excited to share with you some great news I received yesterday.  Last year, I wrote an article about updating historical reports on school shootings in order to keep kids safe in school. And yesterday, I learned that that article has been officially published in EDUCATION. For those of you that are not familiar with this publication, this is an education journal that has been published continually for more than 142 years! So, as you can imagine, I am ECSTATIC!  I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, even if you don’t agree with me. I appreciate you so much for tuning in. I recognized you have lots of options to choose from and I’m honored that you chose to hang out with me. If you would like to receive updates on when both of my titles will be published, follow me on this podcast and make sure to sign up for my newsletter on you would like to check out my article on EDUCATION, Volume 143, Number 2, 15 December 2023, pp. 74-88(15), go to this link:     I’ll see you on the next episode. One nation.
08:30 1/24/23
Suicide: Let's Talk About It
Yesterday, on October 31st, 2022, I learned that my sister committed suicide. The emotional and mental anguish my family and I are experiencing is overwhelming. I wish we could have all been there to help her through her darkest moment.Sometimes I know it’s easy to get stuck in a dark place. It can feel like you’re suffocating with no way out…It’s terrifying. But that is exactly when you need to reach out the most to someone who can help you see the light again. Someone who has a different perspective. Remind yourself,  it’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to cry. Recognize it. Call it out, even. “I’m feeling sad, angry, or feeling like crap.” Recognize it is only a feeling that will eventually pass, just like a season. It does not have to conquer you. The spring always comes after the winter. You will see the sun again and things will get better.Reach out to people who care about you and to professional counselors. It is only a season and it will pass.Please hug your loved ones today and tell them you love them. Take care of each other.
12:43 11/2/22
Kirk Smalley, Stand for the Silent
When I began this podcast, I never imagined that I would meet real life superheroes. Kirk Smalley is the President of This nonprofit organization was started in 2010 by a group of high school students in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma after they heard the story of Kirk’s son, Ty who committed suicide after standing up to bullies in his school. Stand for the Silent has chapters in 40 states and 18 different countries. Kirk's organization has spoken with 4,911 schools and over 3.5 million children in order to help prevent bullying. The positive impact that Kirk has made in this world will last for generations and it was an honor to speak with him, even for just 30 minutes. I hope you are touched and inspired by his story as I am. I am forever humbled by the strength of those who muster the courage and strength to make a positive change in this world when they have suffered so much pain and grief. I only hope if I ever experienced such pain that I would have the strength to do the same. Kirk Smalley and Lori Alhadeff (from my 2nd podcast) are true superheroes.Learn more about and support "Stand for the Silent" on their website and social media pages:Stand for the Silent website: Bullets website: @SFTSorgTwitter: @SFTSorgInstagram: @sftsorgMusic used with permission from the license holder.SONG: Hey BullyARTIST: Morgan FrazierALBUM: The BestLICENSES: Curb Records (on behalf of Curb Records); PEDL, LatinAutorPerf, ARESA, BMG Rights Management (US), LLC, ASCAP, MINT_BMG, Audiam (Publishing), CMRRA, and 7 Music Rights Societies
28:46 8/7/22
Lori Alhadeff, Make Our Schools Safe
For my first guest on "A Safe Place" podcast, I am honored to interview, Lori Alhadeff. In 2018, Lori lost her 14-year old daughter, Alyssa, in the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Since then, she has been fighting so that no other parent has to endure the pain they live with through her nonprofit organization, “Make Our Schools Safe.”   Through Lori's tireless efforts, her organization has helped pass "Alyssa Law" in Florida, New Jersey, and New York. This unique legislation is critical to addressing the issue of law enforcement response time when a life-threatening emergency occurs because time equals life. The law calls for the installation of silent panic alarms that are directly linked to law enforcement, so in case of any emergency, they will get on the scene as quickly as possible; take down a threat; and triage any victims. Make sure to check out "The Make Our Schools Safe Club" -- an in-school, on-campus club comprised of motivated and school safety-minded students. All club members have the same goal… to create a culture of school safety. These club members are the voice of the MOSS movement.  Empowerment of today’s youth is the best chance we have to make necessary changes in the world. As Make Our Schools Safe founder Lori Alhadeff so passionately says “your voice is your power!”: *Visit Lori's website at: MakeOurSchoolsSafe.orgFollow "Make Our Schools Safe" on social media:Facebook @makeourschoolssafe17Instagram @makeourschoolssafeTik Tok @makeourschoolssafe_Twitter @makeschoolsafe8
24:11 7/18/22
Introduction: A Safe Place with Luis Aponte
Welcome to "A Safe Place" - a podcast where we discuss school gun violence and how to keep kids safe in schools. I am your host, Luis Aponte. I am a librarian, author, filmmaker and the founder of Dragon Film Productions. Thank you for joining me. I am honored to have you here with me today.This is the first episode of "A Safe Place." This podcast is inspired by two nonfiction books I have recently completed. One is called "A Safe Place: Imagining Schools Without Gun Violence" and the second book is called "The Ultimate U.S. School Shooting Reference Guide." Or at least, those are the titles at the moment. Perhaps my publisher will want different titles in the future. Who knows?If you would like to receive updates on when both titles will be published, make sure to sign up for my newsletter on and follow me on this podcast.These interviews will be available on YouTube, this podcast, and some of the interviews will most likely be featured in my feature-length documentary film based on my book, “A Safe Place.”You are all invited on this journey to find the answers to the question, “How do we stop the next school shooting?” I say “we” because there is no single person; no president, politician, or celebrity that can prevent school shootings alone. This is a challenge for every community in the country. Make sure to like and follow this podcast and sign up for my newsletter on  I will see you on the next episode. One nation.
13:22 7/11/22