Gun Safety Lessons in School: A Good Idea or a Terrible Mistake?
As the death toll from mass shootings in America has risen in recent years, guns have become the subject of much debate, discussion, and conversation. It seems that everybody has an opinion they want heard. On the one hand, people are calling for tighter gun control policies, citing the fact that the second amendment was written in a time where guns could only fire one bullet every minute or so.
On the other hand, gun-rights advocates are fighting harder than ever in response, hoping to protect themselves against rising threats. Somewhere in the midst of this conversation has arisen a different question: should America start teaching gun safety techniques in our schools?
The public school system mandates certain types of education aside from that regarding literature, math, and history: drugs, drinking, fire emergency, and sex education have to be taught, to some degree, in every school. Even private schools and charter schools have requirements they need to fulfill regarding these aspects. For decades, parents have been divided on the mentioning of these controversial topics.
Some parents believe the courses are beneficial for their children’s safety and that it is important to expose them to the truth; however, other parents bristle at the idea of tainting their children’s innocence, and believe that even mentioning these topics will plant bad ideas in their children’s heads.
That’s why there’s a lot of controversy surrounding teaching truths about gun violence in school. Many parents believe that not all children are at a maturity level to learn about gun safety without either becoming terrified and paranoid or not taking the lessons seriously at all. So concerned parents and communities are faced with the question of whether or not gun safety lessons should be taught in school, and if so, how that would work.
Imagine for a moment that gun safety knowledge would be taught in school. What grade or age group of students is best prepared to listen to these messages? Would it be a federally-mandated rule or state-mandated? If so, is it a good idea to bring in props and real guns to show the students? There are so many questions surrounding this topic and we have made very little progress in answering any of them.
According to a 2010 study by Indiana University’s Department of Applied Health Services, 62% of teachers supported the teaching of gun safety in schools while 13% were opposed to the idea and the remaining 25% had no opinion. About 28% of the teachers surveyed believed that gun safety lessons should occur as young as pre-kindergarten through first grade.
Keep in mind, this study was over seven years ago, and the pool of respondents was limited to two counties in Indiana; if a larger, more comprehensive survey was administered today or in the very near future, it is possible they would see drastically different results, especially if they surveyed particular areas of the country versus the entire nation.
Many other studies have been conducted along those lines, and surprisingly, it appears that a majority of people support gun safety being taught in schools. In fact, whether they support the legal use of recreational guns or are against gun rights, most people surveyed tend to agree on this issue.
If nothing else, this is a sign that parents in homes where guns are easily accessible, even if not often used, should be frank with their children about how serious a responsibility gun handling is and how they are not toys but should only be held and operated by adults.
There have already been some programs implemented by organizations to reach children. For example, in 1988, the NRA put together a program called “Eddie Eagle” which features a police officer dressed in a bald-eagle costume and uses coloring books and videos to help students in kindergarten through sixth grade understand the dangers of guns.
The Eddie Eagle program uses the motto “Stop. Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.” to familiarize them with responsible gun habits. Multiple states including New York and Oregon have attempted to make this program a mandatory part of the school curriculum, but the bills have never passed.
What do you think? Do you think teaching gun safety in school is a good idea, or should it be solely up to the parents of children to instill good habits in them? Ultimately, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is also the responsibility of the government and the school system to ensure the safety of their children.
The problem, then, is coming to the same conclusion as to what is the safest route to take. The bottom line is that adults with guns have to responsible with them and set a good example for their children, inspiring good safety habits, confidence, critical thinking, and responsibility.