I’ve believed for some time that one of the best ways we can minimize accidental shootings is to educate our children about firearms and firearm safety. I also think that some of this education may also do wonders to reduce violence later down the line as kids become exposed to what firearms can do, what they can’t do, and so on.

Right now, that’s not likely to happen.

However, two Iowa middle schools are going to do the next best thing. They’re going to require students to take a hunter safety course as part of their physical education curriculum.

Students from the Clarksville and North Butler school districts will learn how to safely handle a gun during a physical education course focusing on hunter safety.

But Joel Foster, the superintendent for both districts, said he hoped the course will prepare students to react in the event of an active shooter situation.

“We’ve done everything to make (students and district employees) as safe as possible at school with cameras … locks,” he said. “We would like them to be able to deal with a situation that comes up.”

During the course, students will use inoperable guns with replica ammunition.

They will learn how to load and unload ammunition and hold and care for firearms, Foster said. They’ll also learn how to safely carry a gun and how to recognize when a firearm is loaded.

Foster said that, so far, he hasn’t received any negative feedback from parents.

Then again, it’s rural Iowa. It’s not likely that most folks living there would have a problem.

I also find it interesting that Foster is looking at this as a way to combat a potential active shooter situation. I can see how it could be a benefit, too. If you understand the kinds of weapons used, you can make better choices about where to go, how to get away from the shooter, and so on.

Plus, each and every student will learn some basics of gun safety.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter if these students will hunt or not. What they learn will be of benefit to them for the rest of their life, even if they don’t know it. Foster’s plan may well save a significant number of lives throughout the coming years. People who understand how to handle guns properly and how to be respectful of a firearm’s power are less likely to shoot one another.

That’s not to say none of that kind of thing will happen. People do stupid stuff all the time.

But Foster’s efforts may well lead to other districts making a similar choice. If so, schools will at least have some measure of firearm training as part of their curriculum, and we’ll see first hand how things change for the better.