A Republican state senator in Missouri has introduced a bill that would require mandatory gun safety education for all first grade students.
Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla), whose bill was actually introduced the day before the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, told the Senate General Laws Committee on Tuesday that the measure was meant to teach young children what to do if they come across an unsecured gun.
Brown's proposed legislation includes cartoons produced by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that teach kids about gun safety. "Stop! Don't touch! Leave the area, tell an adult," Eddie the Eagle tells a group of children who discover an old gun in grandma's attic in one episode.
Under the bill, a certified firearms safety instructor would teach first-graders using the NRA's Eddie the Eagle GunSafe Program, which claims to reach 18 million children in the United States and Canada. Some Missouri schools have already implemented the program, but it is not mandatory.
"I hate mandates as much as anyone, but some concerns and conditions rise to the level of needing a mandate," Sen. Brown told the committee. The measure is expected to cost the state's school districts around $16 million for teacher training, which would include instruction on how to deal with armed intruders in schools.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) told KCTV that while she supported Brown's bill, she preferred if the schools in her district spent more money on educating students in academic subjects.
"I think we should be teaching kids to read, write and do math," Nasheed said.
While many observers may be alarmed at the prospect of gun education for 6- and 7-year-olds, proponents of Sen. Brown's measure point to a string of recent incidents in which young children have accidentally shot themselves or others to death. Among these:
- Trinity Ross, age 4, was killed after her 6-year-old brother accidentally shot her in the head in Kansas City, Missouri on January 10.
- Navaeh Benson, 6, died after shooting herself in the face in Cleveland, Ohio on January 19.
- Sincere Tymere Smith, 2, shot himself dead with his father's gun in the family's Conway, South Carolina on Christmas Day.
- Ryder Rozier, 3, of Guthrie, Oklahoma shot and killed himself on December 15 with a gun he found in the home of his uncle, a state policeman.
As far as measures that attempt to control gun violence in schools go, Sen. Brown's bill is one of the milder remedies being proposed. By contrast, a bill introduced by Montana state Rep. Jerry O'Neil, a Republican, would actually allow students to bring guns to school without facing disciplinary action if they store the weapon in their cars, their lockers or with school officials.