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Teaching Firearms Safety…in School

Mother teaching her young daughter how to safely and correctly use a handgun.

School districts across the country teach children about dialing 911 in emergency situations. Students of all ages go through special drills at their schools for fires, for tornadoes, and even for active shooters. And teachers are constantly sharing important safety information with young people so they know what to do and what NOT to do. So, I say:

Let’s teach firearms education in the classroom.

Reading, and writing, and…reloading?

I’m sure some people just gasped in horror at the thought. And those same people often applaud the idea of handing a child a condom, but they are vehemently against teaching children the importance of being safe with (and around) guns.

But let’s think this through. Firearms are part of our history. Children, back when this nation was founded, hunted as early as age six or seven. We used to educate our kids then. Why not now? Even LIFE magazine revisited an article from 60 years ago about guns, stating, “…there are literally tens of millions of Americans who own and shoot guns entirely within the letter and spirit of the law. Hunting, for example, is a pastime and a rite of passage in countless communities around the U.S., and the vast majority of hunters—men and women, boys and girls—are not taking down deer and ducks and bears and doves with slingshots, or with bows and arrows. They’re using rifles and shotguns—as they have for generations.” But somehow, nowadays, even though statistics show that one-third of all American households have guns, we are told that we are brainwashing kids to accept them. The idea is ridiculous, especially when you consider that the majority of programs directed at young people do not even attempt to teach whether guns are good or bad, but rather promote the protection and the safety of children. And isn’t that something ALL of us should want, no matter our political affiliations or religious beliefs?

By now, I’m sure that most people have heard of the 13-year-old South Carolina boy who fended off two would-be burglars by using his mother’s gun to protect himself while he was home alone. The boy’s mother said, “I tell my kids that if anything ever happens to call 911, but I also tell them to protect themselves if they have to,” she said. “I never would have dreamed that this would have been a part of our day.”

None of us ever think it could happen to us. That’s why preparation and education is so important.

Now, I understand and support that, ultimately, safety lies with parents and not with teachers. But I also believe that we need to teach kids (at the very minimum) the basics of firearms handling and safety. We need these types of courses and this kind of education in our schools. We shouldn’t cower in embarrassment or be made to feel bad about teaching our kids history, heritage, traditions, responsibility, and safety with firearms. And I honestly think more moms, dads, grandparents, hunters, teachers, and gun clubs need to put in more time, money, and effort to promote safe gun handling to our youth…and to those who didn’t grow up with firearms in their households.

If we want to make a difference with what gun-control supporters love to call “gun violence,” we need more education. And we need the involvement of parents, the support of school counselors, the training of teachers, and so on. In recent years, some states and school districts across the country have passed legislation requiring such gun-safety classes. We need all of them to follow suit.

The bottom line is: kids who are unfamiliar with guns are more likely to play with them and pull the trigger, potentially injuring themselves or others. But those who grow up with guns or who are trained in firearms safety, they get it. They are better prepared. They may not know everything there is to know, but they’ve been exposed to it enough to respect firearms and to be cautious and careful. And that’s exactly the kind of safe, responsible citizens our country needs.

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