New Missouri law allows schools to teach gun safety to first-graders

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 6.56.32 AMAlong with math, science and social studies, gun safety could soon be part of the first-grade curriculum in some Missouri public schools. A new measure that advocates for such classes for first-graders was signed into law last week. But the idea has prompted worry from some parents and experts about the role and effectiveness of gun safety programs in a classroom setting. “I don’t have a gun. My family doesn’t have a gun. There is no reason for them to be teaching about gun safety when there are children with parents like me,” Aimee Patton, a Kansas City blogger and mom to a 6-year-old girl, told CNN in a phone interview. Read more via CNN.

While I truly believe that gun education, as in how to use a gun, should be taught only by experienced, well-trained people, and the decision to teach a child how to use a gun should 100% be up to the parent, teaching a child how to safely react when they encounter a gun is really no different than teaching them how to react when there is a fire or “stranger danger” situation. With all the accidental deaths in the news, deaths that are caused by children shooting themselves or accidentally shooting other young friends or siblings, how could this be a bad thing? Especially for children who live in homes without guns. These children may not understand that a firearm should always be assumed to be loaded.  Something like the Eddie Eagle program simply teaches kids:

If you see a gun:

  • STOP!
  • DON’T TOUCH.
  • LEAVE THE AREA.
  • TELL AN ADULT.

I have not witnessed the actual training taking place, and have not reviewed the curriculum for Eddie Eagle, but one of the criticisms in the article is that there is no “Practical Application” training included. All a teacher would have to do is spend about 15 minutes role playing with a toy gun. They know how to call 911, they know where to go for a fire drill, there is no reason a child couldn’t be taught to NOT touch a gun. It seems to me that children in homes with no guns would be the most likely kids to touch a gun if they found one (though it may be less likely they would find one.) Should they come across a gun, it seems they would be much more curious about it and more likely to touch it since the odds are that their parents never educated them about a firearm.  If you never see one, you never play with a toy gun, you can’t make a paper gun, you can’t bite your pop tart into a gun, when would the teaching moment ever arrive in a child’s life? Cops and Robbers, Cowboy vs. outlaw games we all played as children helped us work out the difference between good and evil, but it also gave our parents a reason to talk to use about gun safety.

I guess the parents who don’t have guns and the School districts who won’t even let a “Pop Tart” gun exist would rather just pretend that guns do not exist at all and then pray and hope with all their might that their children never happen across one of the 300,000,000 guns out in our society. Yep – hope is a great plan.

For me, I have and will continue to talk to my children and train them in gun safety, and as they grow – the proper use of a firearm.

Full Disclosure:  I am the mother of a first grader.

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6 thoughts on “New Missouri law allows schools to teach gun safety to first-graders

  1. Unfortunately there are parents like Aimee who would rather hide from reality than teach their children to not touch guns. With all due respect Aimee, you may not own guns but over half the households in America do. One day your child might be hanging out at one of those houses. You cannot shield your child forever from what exists in the world. Do you think that teaching kids to stay away from guns somehow equates to promoting kids to like guns? Because it is not that at all. I hope you reconsider your opinion against teaching kids gun safety…

    1. Let’s see, Mark – are you okay with young kids learning about sex in school? Because it’s all around them – on TV, billboards, pop music, store displays. And who knows what’s going on at other people’s houses.

      You cannot shield your child forever from what exists in the world. Do you think that teaching kids to stay away from sex somehow equates to promoting kids to like sex? Because it is not that at all. I hope you reconsider your opinion against teaching kids sex safety…

      1. Fred, maybe gun safety and sex education are the same thing and maybe they are not, but most schools do have sex education starting in gradeschool (at an age appropriate level) and most of them teach abstinence as the number one way to be safe when it comes to sex. I do not care if the school teaches my child gun safety or not – as I will teach them myself. Still, if this law was passed in MO., apparantly the lawmakers elected by the people in that state thought it was the right thing to do. It is really no different than the lawmakers elected in New York and Colorado making the decisions they did to tighted gun control to an extreme level. The only difference is that simply teaching kids not to touch a gun has nothing to do with the right adults have in this country to own firearms. It might make a differene and keep a child from killing themself should a child be in a location where (for whatever unfortunate reason) the gun owner made the gun accessible to a child. This training also does NOT remove the responsibiltiy of a gun owner to keep their firearms secure from young hands.

        Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts!

        ~Lil

    2. Mark,

      Thank you for the well worded response – I happen to agree with you. I do wish that Aimee would reconside her position as well – I am not asking her to own a gun or keep one in her home, but just that she back off of the strong opposition to the attempt to educate children not to touch a gun.

      ~Lil

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