Virginia Gets It

May 3rd, 2010

HB 1217 has passed in Virginia.  The bill allows local elementary schools to teach firearms safety to students, using the NRA's Eddie Eagle program as a template.

Predictable but impotent resistance came from the Virginia Center for Public Safety, a Brady Campaign partner.  The VCPC is an affiliate of States United to Prevent Gun Violence, who recently merged with Joyce Foundation beneficiary Freedom States Alliance (*).

A spokesperson for the VCPC lamented that firearms safety training did not belong in the schools, and that it is "up to the parents to teach that at home."  With the latter, I agree.

The problem is, that's not happening.  If parents were doing their jobs, this wouldn't be an issue.

If someone's child does not know about basic gun safety by puberty, they have failed as a parent.  Our public schools have had to take up the slack in other life-or-death issues like sex education and driver's education, and gun safety is another.

I can tell within a split-second of handing someone a gun whether or not their parents trained them.  Those who were taught early treat firearms with solemnity and respect, while those left to the tutelage of television and video games tend to handle them with a sense of carelessness and neglect.

When reckless behavior turns into tragedy, it becomes a problem for all of us.

There are two objections to the Virginia legislation.  The first is that the Eddie Eagle program, being created by the NRA, carries with it a political agenda of some sort.  However, the program itself is neutral on the subject of gun ownership and politics.

Eddie Eagle is never shown touching a firearm, and he does not promote firearm ownership or use. The program prohibits the use of Eddie Eagle mascots anywhere that guns are present. The Eddie Eagle Program has no agenda other than accident prevention — ensuring that children stay safe should they encounter a gun. The program never mentions the NRA. Nor does it encourage children to buy guns or to become NRA members.

Those teaching the program need not be NRA instructors, or even NRA members, and it has been proven highly effective in preventing accidents.

"Think of the children" and "if it only saves one life" have been the justifications behind many proposed laws restricting firearms ownership, but when a program with the potential to save the lives of children is authored by the NRA, these same people decry it as a "freebie to a special interest group."  One must wonder where their priorities really lie.

The second objection raised is that of funding.  The Virginia legislature found the costs "indeterminate," but did not consider them a significant issue.  In fact, the costs of materials are far less than those of standard textbooks, and since anyone can teach them, no additional payroll is required.  Should the outlay still be considered prohibitive, state chapters of the Friends of the NRA provide grants to defray the cost of such programs.

This is common-sense gun legislation.  It saves lives without placing restrictions on the lawful exercise of the 2nd Amendment, and it does so at a negligible cost to taxpayers.  How anyone claiming to care about gun safety could oppose this is beyond me.

(*)  The FSA recently tried to impede gun reform in Iowa following the dissolution of fellow Joyce beneficiary Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence.  Iowa has since significantly reformed their carry laws for the better.

  1. Piove wrote, running Mozilla Firefox 3.5.9 on Ubuntu Linux

    Bloody hell. Common-sense legislation that will work.
    The same arguments were used against sex education, but, taught properly, it reduces teen pregnancy and STD transmission. Good work, and a sensible move having it totally apolitical.

    Comment on May 3, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  2. Alpheus wrote, running Debian IceWeasel 3.0.6 on Debian GNU/Linux

    "Eddie Eagle is never shown touching a firearm…"

    This is a major flaw with the Eddie Eagle program; or rather, it doesn't matter whether or not Eddie Eagle is touching a firearm: those children learning firearm safety ought to learn Cooper's Four Rules (aka the "Adult" rules), and they should fire a gun, preferably at a watermelon or something similar.

    Of course, Eddie Eagle is better than nothing! Ironically, though, the Brady Bunch want nothing…

    Comment on July 20, 2010 @ 10:17 am

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