Gun control advocates often complain that people who own guns are often untrained, that there’s no requirement people learn how to use a gun safely before getting one. This is especially true when you start talking about concealed carry. While some states require people to go through a training class before getting a permit, many others have no such requirement.
But one thing we all tend to agree on is that people should get training. Where we disagree is whether it should be mandatory.
I’ve tended to take a different approach, and that’s the idea of firearm education being part of the public school curriculum. If you’re attending a public school, you should be taught at least something about handling a firearm safely. After all, don’t we teach kids about free speech, voting, and how to exercise many other rights? Why should guns be different?
A recent editorial from Salem, Oregon seems to think it’s time to discuss just such a thing.
Gun-rights advocates last week filed an initiative petition to make firearms-safety instruction mandatory in all sixth-grade public schools in Oregon.
Condemnation was swift among those convinced that such a requirement was tantamount to endorsing gun use. Maybe it is.
There also was talk of instruction adding to the prevalence of guns in children’s lives. Maybe it would.
But it is an idea that is worth talking about and should be considered by the Oregon Legislature.
We have too many stories in our community about gun accidents that might have been prevented if young people had been shown how to recognize gun danger and act appropriately.
Personally knowing how to recognize gun danger can help save lives.
Which has been my argument all along, and I’m glad to know I’m not alone.
Far too many accidents happen when a child finds a gun, either in the home or outside of it, but has lacked the basic understanding of gun safety to know what to do. Instead, they see a gun and think of what they see on television and in movies, and let’s be honest here. That’s not what anyone needs to learn about firearm safety.
The Statesman Journal finishes up by saying:
We know responsible gun owners teach their children gun safety just as responsible parents teach their children about sex education. These parents don’t leave issues as important as sex and gun use solely up to our public-school system.
But what about the children who have no exposure to the potential dangers of gun use? Don’t they deserve to know how to recognize when someone shouldn’t be handling a firearm or when to notify an adult?
This knowledge can save lives.
I couldn’t agree more.
While I’m not a big fan of public education, having seen the trainwreck from up close for far too long, if we’re going to have it, we might as well make the most of it. That includes a basic understanding of gun safety. I think the Oregon measure is a good start, but I think that just teaching it in sixth grade is a mistake. I’d start teaching it far earlier and keep teaching it until they’re out of school, just to reinforce the knowledge sufficiently, but that’s just me.
Still, it’s good to see the idea gaining traction, and from places you wouldn’t normally expect it.