Utah’s Attorney General has announced the launch of a gun safety program that will be available for schools across the state, three years after lawmakers approved a bill mandating the development of a curriculum that educators can use to help children know what to do if they run across a firearm. While the course isn’t mandatory, any school district that wants to utilize the program is welcome to do so.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said Thursday at a news conference that the program avoids the politically sensitive issues of gun policy and instead acknowledges that many children are bound to come across guns in a state where an estimated four in 10 households have a firearm. Utah is also one of several states that allow teachers with concealed carry permit holders to carry guns in schools.
“This addresses the reality that guns are a party of our society and are often in places where children can find them,” Reyes said.
The program isn’t a bunch of gun control propaganda masquerading as “gun safety”. In fact, it sounds a lot like the NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safety program.
The program features a 5-minute video and would be taught to children in 5th through 12th grades by law enforcement officers who already work with students. School districts will have to approve the course, and parents will have to provide written permission.
The state paid about $70,000 to a Texas-based business called Kalkomey Company to make the video and program. The course teaches children not to pick up guns and to let adults know if they see one. The Attorney General’s Office coordinated with the Utah State Board of Education to create the program.
Kalkomey produces educational videos on a variety of subjects, from scuba diving to hunter’s education, so it’s not like they’re complete neophytes to the world of gun safety. I’m very curious to see what the five minute video actually looks like compared to an Eddie Eagle video. The messaging of Eddie Eagle; “if you see a gun, stop, don’t touch, run away, and tell an adult” is geared towards younger students, while this program is going to be used mostly in middle and high schools in Utah.
Utah state Sen. Todd Weiler, who sponsored the law, said the idea sprouted from a story his friend told him about two boys finding a gun in a drawer at one of their houses while looking for batteries for a video game controller. One of the boys stopped the other from grabbing the firearm based on previous guidance from his parents, but Weiler said not all parents take time to talk about what to do with their children.
“This video is not a magic elixir and it’s not going to solve all the problems that we have with guns in our society,” said Weiler, a Republican. “But I do think if it’s used effectively by parents and schools, it can help kids stop and think about what they are going to do. . . and maybe save a life.”
Since the program is optional, AG Reyes says he’s unsure of how many school districts will adopt the new gun safety program, but the fact that it’s available is a good thing. Of course, anti-gun lawmakers in Utah still want to see additional gun control laws passed in the name of “gun safety”, but empowering kids to make good choices is a much better way to go, in terms of safety, than just slapping another gun control law on the books.