Along 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:
- 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.