Wisconsin GOP unveils bill to teach real gun safety in schools

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

Democrats supposedly love the idea of “gun safety,” but a new bill in Wisconsin is about to put that love to the test. Republicans have introduced legislation that would require the state superintendent of schools to put together a curriculum for an elective course in high school to teach students actual gun safety, instead of preaching an abstinence-only “guns are bad” message.

The bill had its first public hearing this week, and Democrats are already coming up with lame excuses for their opposition.

Bill co-author Rep. Treig Pronschinske, R-Mondovi, said Wednesday the bill would lead to proper gun usage and fewer dangerous gun incidents.

“Critics of the bill have said that we should not educate kids on firearms because it could be dangerous,” Pronschinske said. “This is ridiculous. We educate youth on drugs and sex. We certainly don’t want kids to try heroin or to have unintended pregnancies. Education is key to safety and is almost in every aspect of life.”

In response, Rep. Dave Considine, D-Baraboo, pointed to the potential dangers of farming.

“The next thing I’m going to hear is that we have to offer farm safety and have tractors be driven around in a course at school to make sure farmers are safe,” he said.

I don’t see that happening, but what would be the problem if school districts did offer some hands-on experience driving a tractor as part of their agricultural education classes? I fail to see the issue with either Considine’s theoretical instruction or the optional class that would be created by this legislation.

And yes, the course would indeed be optional for districts, which could opt out by simply passing a resolution. No child would be forced to attend any gun safety course, but that’s still not enough for opponents.

Under the federal Gun-Free Schools Act, guns on K-12 campuses are prohibited and punishable by at least a one-year expulsion. Pronschinske said Wednesday, however, the class would use replica guns, not real guns.

Committee member Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mount Horeb, questioned how the firearm course could be a semester long as the legislators suggested, and wondered why it would be a four-credit class.

“I just can’t imagine how an entire semester is spent doing this for credit. It just seems kind of ridiculous to me,” she said.

The good news for Pope is that she doesn’t have to use her imagination. She can simply look at Arizona law, where since 2008 school districts have been required to offer a one-semester elective course on gun safety. Here’s what’s covered:

1. Instruction on the rules of firearm safety.

2. Instruction on the basic operation of firearms.

3. Instruction on the history of firearms and marksmanship.

4. Instruction on the role of firearms in preserving peace and freedom.

5. Instruction on the constitutional roots of the right to keep and bear arms.

6. Instruction on the use of clay targets.

7. Practice time at a shooting range.

8. Actual demonstration by the pupil of competence with a firearm as defined in section 13-3101 by safely discharging the firearm at one or more targets.

That’s right. Under the Arizona law students actually spend some time on the range, which would not be the case under the bill proposed in Wisconsin. This law has been in place since 2008, and yet I’ve never heard of any issues whatsoever with the curriculum.

It’s time for Wisconsin Democrats to put up or shut up. They claim to be in favor of gun safety. They claim to support the Second Amendment. If either of those things are true than there should be no dispute over providing students with the option of receiving a solid foundation in how to be safe and responsible around firearms. The fact that the objections are so vehement and yet so frivolous speaks volumes about the real ideology and agenda of these anti-gun politicians.