Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Posted at 3:07 PM ET, 04/21/2010

Should public schools teach gun safety? Virginia schools may

By Valerie Strauss

What with the deep concern in the country that too many kids can’t read or write on grade level, and that most kids don’t know anything about financial literacy or can’t name the first five presidents, guess what subject the Virginia General Assembly wants public elementary schools to teach?

Gun safety.

My colleague Rosalind S. Helderman, wrote that the legislature directed the state Board of Education to develop course materials on gun safety that incorporate the guidelines of a National Rifle Association program. Elementary schools in Virginia can then choose to use the program or not.

According to the legislation, the state’s curriculum must "incorporate, among other principles of firearm safety, accident prevention and the rules upon which the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program offered by the National Rifle Association" is based.

According to the website:
“The Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program is a gun accident prevention program for children in pre-kindergarten through third grade. Using instructional materials including workbooks, an animated video, and student reward stickers, the program’s safety mascot, Eddie Eagle, teaches children that if they find a gun in an unsupervised situation, they should: STOP! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.”


“The purpose of the Eddie Eagle Program isn’t to teach whether guns are good or bad, but rather to promote the protection and safety of children. The program makes no value judgments about firearms, and no firearms are ever used in the program.

"Like swimming pools, electrical outlets, matchbooks and household poison, they’re treated simply as a fact of everyday life. With firearms found in about half of all American households, it’s a stance that makes sense.”

It certainly makes sense for kids to learn not to touch a gun if they see one and to tell an adult.

But does it make sense for public schools to spend money on teaching gun safety when they are facing dramatic budget cuts -- the Virginia General Assembly just approved a cut of $646 million in public school funding over the next two years -- and are struggling mightily to keep teachers employed?

Or should that be left to parents?

Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our new Higher Education page at Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 3:07 PM ET
Categories:  Elementary School, Health  | Tags:  National Rifle Association, National Rifle Association and gun safety program, Virginia General Assembly and schools, Virginia schools, Virginia schools to teach gun safety, teaching gun safety, the NRA and gun safety  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Student: Do, kids, teachers on Facebook really want privacy?
Next: Bill Gates's college tour


As long as it's not bringing an actual weapon (esp. a loaded one) onto school property, I don't really see how this is any worse (or will be any more effective, to be honest...) than the DARE (anti-drug) program I had in 5th grade.

Posted by: | April 21, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

No. Why even introduce the kids to guns? Sounds like a backdoor marketing scam.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 21, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

jckdoors: I'm curious if you have the same feelings on Sex Ed

Posted by: netsurf12 | April 21, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Have a target shooting session somewhere. Make it a field trip for the kids one day. Take the mystery/glamour out of guns.

Just don't walk around with a gun unless you're police or military. No exceptions.
Idiot rednecks & hardcore patriots with assault rifles on their backs like Al Queda has just landed at Miami Beach.

Posted by: uncivil | April 21, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Guns can be dangerous, but can be legally acquired and used. They affect thousands of people every day. So yes, there should be classes about gun safety in school.

Posted by: postisarag | April 21, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't know. Do they still have Driver's Education through the public schools? Aren't programs being cut to save money? This may not be the time to teach kids about extra hobbies at school. On the other hand, maybe it is a good idea. We do teach kids fire safety, and to stay away from drugs at schools.

Posted by: celestun100 | April 22, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I think they should be taught to stay away from loaded guns. The photograph doesn't go with the article. The EddieEagle Gunsafe program is an accident prevention program. I thought that it was to teach the kids how to use guns when I just glanced at the title and the photograph. Many kids are shot accidentally.

Posted by: celestun100 | April 22, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

There is not enough time to cover all the curriculum already. Why add something else? It's my understanding that there are NRA Safety classes available. Those should be required of anyone purchasing a gun the same way drivers' ed is required to get a drivers' license. Parents can and should teach gun safety at home.

Posted by: musiclady | April 22, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

The best gun safety instruction is to teach your kids (or students) to KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OTHER PEOPLE'S THINGS. Most of the gun accidents among kids that I've read about involve someone picking up a gun that belonged to a parent or an adult in another house, finding a gun in a purse, or something like that. I even read a lament by one woman who said her 20-year-old son was shot when one of his friends picked up her husband's gun and accidentally fired it--she urged people to keep guns away from "children" and teach all youngsters how to shoot safely. That 20-year-old didn't need to know gun safety as much as he needed to respect his host's property.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | April 25, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Those who oppose teaching gun safety simply want young children to die.

Posted by: muawiyah | April 25, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Children are far smarter than most parents think. Children see guns depicted on TV and video games all the time and that gives them a distorted view. If you teach a child what a gun is and what to do, then they will act appropriately. Leaving gun safety to parents is asking for trouble. How can someone who knows NOTHING about guns teach ANYTHING about guns? To not teach children what to do when they encounter a gun is reprehensible and stupid. My son is safe around guns. Why? Because he knows what they are all about and they aren't a big mystery to him. Curiosity is what gets kids into trouble and firearms are not something that he is curious about. He KNOWS.

Posted by: exmorg | April 28, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company