Objections To Elective Gun Safety Course Make No Sense

Objections To Elective Gun Safety Course Make No Sense
AP Photo/Michael Hill

Firearms are dangerous. We all know this, which is why we have rules about how to handle them.

However, not everyone knows these rules. It’s part of why we have accidental shootings. While they’re not horribly common, they’re all tragic enough, even if there are no fatalities. If there are, well, it’s even worse.

So teaching kids how to safely handle firearms just makes sense, right? Not according to a letter to the editor in Utah.

I am opposed to HB258; a bill to provide a high school course on gun safety, currently on its way to the Utah Senate.

HB258 is a political and financial support vehicle for promoting the use of guns. HB258 will provide taxpayer dollars to support training for an activity that is heavily supported by corporate interests and gun rights groups. Any instructor would necessarily promote gun use. This provides personal financial support to their industry.

I attended the hearing during which it was suggested that local gun range instructors could teach the course. If there is a demand for a course to get a gun permit, why does the private sector not step up and provide this service?

Except, the private sector does provide that service. They do it all the time.

What people are talking about, though, is a course that would teach students how to handle a firearm should they encounter one. While the letter writer is correct in commenting that activities that she enjoys such as horseback riding and skiing are dangerous as well, but she’s missing something rather important.

You see, people who encounter skis just laying around don’t pick them up and think they know how to use them, only to accidentally kill their friend. People don’t see horses and just hop on thinking they know what they’re doing and kill a loved one.

Those things happen with firearms. People know they don’t know how to ski or ride a horse. As a result, most won’t mess around with skis or horses if they don’t know what they’re doing. If they do, then they’re most likely to hurt themselves rather than someone else.

Guns are different. Someone just picking up a gun and not knowing what they’re doing can seriously injure someone. They can kill someone, all because they didn’t know that having a finger on the trigger was a bad thing or because they didn’t know to check and make sure the weapon was unloaded.

A firearm can change a life in an instant, yet there’s absolutely no teaching about these weapons.

Plus, frankly, firearms education is not automatically about promoting the use of firearms. It’s one thing to teach people how to shoot, but gun safety and firearm use are different animals entirely. Sure, some people may feel less afraid of guns once they understand how to handle one safely, but how many people are we talking about here? Five in the entire state?

What this letter proves, though, is that opposition to firearms isn’t about safety. Despite some claiming to support “gun safety,” it’s about making guns as unapproachable as possible for everyone. They don’t want safety, they want exclusion.