'Gun Safety' Advocate Objects to Gun Safety Instruction in Schools

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The gun control lobby's definition of "gun safety" is "don't own a gun." The entire reason they've spent so much time and energy trying to rebrand themselves as "gun safety advocates" is because studies have shown that when anti-gun policies are described as "gun safety" measures, they poll much better than when the phrase "gun control" is deployed. Gun safety is more popular than gun control, so those who want to destroy our Second Amendment rights are loathe to use the term "gun control" to describe their agenda or their philosophy. 

Still, it doesn't take much to out self-proclaimed gun safety advocates as the anti-gunners that they are. All you have to do is suggest providing students with a real education in gun safety, sit back, and wait for the inevitable meltdown to begin.

Utah state Rep. Brett Garner, a Democrat from the Salt Lake City suburb of West Valley, recently introduced HB 498, which would create a three-year pilot program providing a semester-long course in the safe handling of firearms for high school students. Participation would be voluntary, not mandatory, and the course would cover everything from the rules of firearm safety and the basic operations of firearms to informing students about local options for voluntarily and temporarily removing a firearm from a home (like the work being done by Hold My Guns). The curriculum also allows for field trips to gun ranges, where students would be able to get some hands-on experience under the watchful eyes of firearm instructors. 

What's there for gun safety advocates to dislike? Plenty, at least according to University of Utah student and columnist Jeffrey Langley, Jr.

At its core, H.B. 498 relies on the idea that teaching children about firearm safety will prevent violence and suicide. However, this view fails to take into account a few crucial details. While requiring training for prospective gun owners may reduce rates of violence, children and teens often don’t apply what they learn about gun safety. Most school shooters and young victims of suicide are getting their weapons from home. Teaching teens marksmanship and firearm operation won’t stop that. It’s antithetical to the bill’s primary goal. The best way we can prevent children from misusing firearms is to stop them from gaining access to weapons in the first place.

The bill doesn’t solely fail at a rudimentary level, either. As was pointed out by past legislators when Rep. Rex Shipp (R- Cedar City) initially presented this idea, H.B. 498 presents potential liability issues for the state. The lack of background checks or mental health screenings also compounds this issue. An irresponsible or violent student could easily endanger classmates and instructors during a class trip to a firing range. In a state that continually alienates and strips students of their rights, we need to take this issue seriously. The blood of a shooter’s victims would not be on their murderer’s hands alone, but on our state’s as well.

Furthermore, the bill would have Utahns pay for what hunter-safety courses already provide, which participants and the federal government fund. To burden citizens with an unnecessary, costly system unneeded for civic and professional success instead of pursuing what is known to work is wasteful and wrong.

Lastly, to co-opt a policy from countries with wildly different attitudes toward guns and mental healthcare systems is a thoughtless blunder. It is akin to feeding a horse gasoline because we know it works for cars. We cannot expect similar outcomes without working from a similar starting point.

Let's take these objections one by one. Despite Langley's assertion that the firearms instruction wouldn't reduce violent crime or suicide, Garner's bill requires at least one parent of every participating student to attend a pre-course meeting that goes over gun storage options, available mental health resources for students in the community, and a free trigger lock. 

As for a lack of background checks or mental health screenings for participating students, what's to stop one of those "irresponsible or violent" teens from harming their classmates or instructors in the cafeteria or on a school bus? If that's the concern then shouldn't we be subjecting every kid to a background check and mental health evaluation before we let them set foot in school? 

Langley's assertion that HB 498 is just too darn expensive is even more laughable given that his X/Twitter feed suggests he's not exactly a small-government capitalist. 

Ah yes, the hammer and shroom; the preferred symbol of every wannabe Commie college student who just knows that Communism could work, but it hasn't really been tried before. 

That leaves Langley's argument that it would be a huge mistake to borrow ideas from countries with "different attitudes towards guns". Isn't that what the gun control lobby does every day? They want us to be more like Australia, or England, or even China; countries that don't protect the right to keep and bear arms and in some cases outlaw it entirely. That is just fine by Langley. It's daring to teach high schoolers how to be safe and responsible with a firearm he finds too problematic. 

Now, I'm not endorsing Garner's bill, though it's probably the best gun-related piece of legislation that I've seen from a Democrat this year (an incredibly low bar, to be sure). But Langley's objections to the gun safety education proposed by the Utah lawmaker just doesn't hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny, at least not if he wants to label himself a "gun safety advocate." There's a world of difference between gun safety and gun control, and I thank Langley for reminding us of that important fact with his nonsensical objections to one but not the other.