Teaching all kids firearm safety, even the blind

RJA1988 / Pixabay

Derek LeBlanc, founder and president of the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation, made it his goal to educate children on firearm safety. To LeBlanc, it’s not just another check box for a youth to put on their accomplishment sheet, but rather a potentially life saving skill. The Foundation uses the catchphrase of “ZERO firearm accidents is the only acceptable goal!!®️” and to fully realize that, that means LeBlanc and his volunteers need to adapt, in order to reach all the willing minds. Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation is dedicated to teaching children what to do should they encounter a firearm, as well as marksmanship to the older kids. Recently the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation graduated through one of their seminars a child who is blind.

LeBlanc recounted the story, noting that the child and his father showed up early to the presentation at the Cabela’s in Tualatin, Oregon. It was important to make sure that the class was going to be able to really meet the needs of the differently abled youth. For LeBlanc, this was not as much of a challenge, as it was a boon. For example, when discussing inert “dummy ammunition” LeBlanc brought the faux cartridge to the student to be able to touch and feel the difference of the material composition, specifically the plastic bullet.

From the very beginning of our program, it has been our goal to reach every kid. What does that mean exactly? It means we go where other organizations cannot and do the work other organizations won’t! Today there is always talk of inclusivity but in reality this inclusiveness only happens if the audience subscribes to the presenter’s ideology. This truly prevents free thinking and puts people in boxes, in the name of “diversity”. If we are going to save lives in the name of gun safety, we have to think outside of the box. We have to understand how our children learn. When we understand how they learn, then we can tailor the message best to fit that audience. – Derek LeBlanc Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation President

The Foundation’s truly inclusive mentality embraced the chance to work with the youth. While the child is legally and permanently blind due to a tumor which affected his optic nerve when he was younger, he could still see bright colors and shapes. LeBlanc explained that having the student in his class was a pleasure. Throughout the class he would raise his hand to answer the questions, and really seemed like he was engaged in the material. LeBlanc admitted that he needs to keep things dynamic when working with different kids, “Some kids are visual learners, some audible learners, and some learn kinesthetically.”

At the end of the seminar, LeBlanc distributed certificates to the participants. He talked about wanting to better serve those who are visually impaired in a post online. LeBlanc engaged with the father-son duo before they left…

“What could we do to make this class better for you or others?” He [the boy] asked, could he “feel what they feel like?” “Absolutely, YES!” Dad and I double checked for clear, like we always do, but then laid out the handguns that he would most likely come in contact with. We helped him understand if he was ever put in a dangerous situation, this is where you don’t put your fingers. We explained where the grip was and where the muzzle was pointed. He was reading the gun like it was braille.

The exchange was captured in video and shows the boy’s fingers being guided across a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver. While he was tactically becoming acquainted with the firearms, the different parts were explained to him. The mini lesson was exactly what was needed to take the boy from “uninitiated” to “familiar with what he needed to be aware of”.

This was nothing short of an incredibly moving experience for LeBlanc, being able to participate in the education of this boy on firearm safety. In his post, he admitted that the situation brought tears to his eyes in recollecting the meaningful exchange. LeBlanc privately said to me that “The boy we met recently longed for normalcy and to be treated just like every other kid and that is just what we did. We just did things differently than we would normally do.” I’m sure being able to help meet this child’s need to have normalcy contributed to the welling of emotions within LeBlanc.

Always trying to do things better and improve on what they have going on, I wanted to know from LeBlanc what’s next for Kids S.A.F.E.? What’s on tap? He confided in me some of their plans going forward.

We are currently developing a curriculum for teens and translating our information into Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Mandarin, American Sign Language, and Arabic. The reason that we are doing this is to be truly inclusive and to offer meaningful solutions across a broader spectrum. We have to have educational materials for ALL kids. Not just the ones with English as a first language.[…] Children with lack of educational opportunities have a higher probability of mortality and this is why this extra development is so critical to the preservation of life and our 2A rights. We look forward to the further evolutions of our program to help protect children. ZERO firearm accidents is the only acceptable goal!!®️

I’m excited to see how these plans flesh out. With the additions of different languages, as well as American Sign Language, the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation will really be able to come closer to achieving their goal of reaching all kids. I’m sure that this experience, which left LeBlanc quite moved, is also going to give him cause to pause, and I won’t be shocked should he come up with outlines and curriculum for all kinds of other differently abled youths.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET