Even though groups like Everytown and Moms Demand Action have tried to rebrand themselves as “gun safety advocates” and not anti-gun activists, their definition of “gun safety” boils down to “don’t own a gun.” When it comes to actual training and education, the gun prohibitionists tend to demand a host of mandates for would-be gun owners; requirements that seem less designed to improve safety and more to make it a difficult and burdensome process to exercise your right to keep and bear arms.
When it comes to educating kids about how to be safe and responsible around firearms, however, anti-gunners adopt a strident abstinence-based approach; don’t even mention firearms, and certainly don’t use programs like the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe program to teach younger kids that if they ever see a gun they should stop, don’t touch, run away, and tell a grown-up. Not because that’s bad advice, but because it’s coming from the NRA.
The anti-education ideology of the gun control lobby is on full display in Kansas, where lawmakers are debating a bill that would allow school districts to adopt a firearms safety and education curriculum for K-12 grades and self-proclaimed gun safety advocates are now demanding kids be kept intentionally ignorant, lest they be brainwashed into supporting the Second Amendment when they’re older.
Moriah Day, executive director of the Kansas State Rifle Association, said the state affiliate of the NRA requested reintroduction of the bill because establishing a unified curriculum for firearm education in public schools was “the only way to counteract the dangerous perspective many young people have from learning about firearms only through violent and careless examples on display across pop culture.”
He said the NRA approach was pragmatic because it acknowledged firearms were part of preparation for dangers of everyday life in the way advice was shared about the being safe while swimming, using electrical outlets or around fire hazards.
Johnson County resident Ephren Taylor III also addressed the Senate committee, but pointed to research indicating the Eddie Eagle program was “absolutely ineffective.” He said lobbying for firearm training in Kansas public schools was part of a campaign to build support for the NRA.
“Let’s be honest,” Taylor said. “We know why we’re choosing the NRA’s program. It’s not about gun safety. It’s about promoting the NRA to young kids so when they grow up they say, ‘Oh, Eddie Eagle. I remember him.’ You want to indoctrinate young kids into loyal NRA supporters.”
Under the Senate bill, the state Board of Education would be compelled to establish curriculum guidelines for firearm safety training conforming to programs offered by the NRA and Department of Wildlife and Parks. A local school board would make the final decision about whether to offer students instruction in gun safety.
If adopted in the 2023 legislative session, the statute would take effect July 1 and the new firearm programs could begin this fall. The Senate bill would require nearly 500,000 students in Kansas schools be afforded an opportunity to study how to responsibly deal with a gun. The anticipated annual cost of the program to the state would be $70,000.
Under the bill, students in kindergarten through grade five would exclusively have access to the NRA’s trademarked Eddie Eagle program. Students in grades six through eight would be in either the Eddie Eagle curriculum or the hunter safety program of the Department of Wildlife and Parks. The state parks department’s Hunter Education In Our Schools Program would be exclusive in grades nine through 12.
The head of the Kansas branch of the National Education Association also objects to the plan, insisting that when it comes to gun safety education schools are not the proper environment, and that any such efforts “ought to be operated outside the school day and outside school buildings.”
Given that the national NEA continues lobbying for all kinds of gun control, including bans on so-called assault weapons and criminalizing firearm transfers without a federal background check, I’m pretty sure that the Kansas chapter would object to any program that doesn’t paint gun ownership in a negative light; even something that completely avoids the political debate over gun control in favor of providing simple tips that can keep kids safe. Though school districts would have to opt-in to providing these programs, even that’s too much for the teacher’s union. If the anti-gunners had their way, the only “gun safety” lessons taught in school would be the talking points of Everytown, March for Our Lives, Brady, and the like shared by educators in their classrooms.
It looks like SB 116 will soon be headed to the Senate floor, and I expect that it will pass with wide margins. So far Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly hasn’t indicated whether she’ll sign the bill if it gets to her desk, however, so a veto-proof majority may be needed if lawmakers want to help school districts provide a real education on firearms safety when kids head back to class in the fall.