Friday, December 21, 2012

Rolla legislator: Bill requiring first graders to take NRA gun safety course does not promote NRA

In his latest legislative report, Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, explains his bill, SB 75, which would require all Missouri first graders to take an NRA gun safety course.

One day before the tragic shooting took place in Connecticut that resulted in the loss of many innocent lives, I prefiled a bill that would provide schools with necessary training and education regarding firearms safety and how to handle potentially dangerous or armed intruders. Senate Bill 75 would establish the Active Shooter and Intruder Response Training for School Program (ASIRT) and require schools to annually teach the Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program to first graders or use a substantially similar program with the same qualifications.

 So that the intent of this bill is clear, I want to discuss exactly what this proposal is intended to do and what it is not. First, this program does not promote gun ownership, nor does it reflect my personal stance on owning guns.  Although the Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program curriculum is created and published by the National Rifle Association (NRA), my legislation does not promote this organization. In fact, the NRA is never mentioned in the curriculum, nor is it mentioned or published in any of the program’s materials. 

Most importantly, the Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program does NOT include firearm training. Students would never touch a firearm of any type with this curriculum, and this program does not teach how to fire a weapon. 

What this program does is teach students what to do in case an armed intruder enters the school. It provides techniques that self-defense experts recommend for children to have the best chance of escaping and surviving an armed-intruder attack. The gun safety portion of this program teaches children what to do in certain circumstances. For instance, it informs children what they should do if they find a gun in their home or other location by immediately leaving the vicinity of the gun and quickly finding an adult to report where the gun is located. 

It disgusts me that this type of legislation even needs to be filed and addressed by the Legislature. Unfortunately, this is the world in which we live, and I prefiled this bill to help start the discussion about this very difficult issue. My intention regarding this legislation is to not push rhetoric or have a knee-jerk reaction. I filed this bill because of my concern for our students, teachers, and administration who have felt the effects of increasing school violence and the aftershocks we continue to feel as a result of the Dec. 14 devastating attack on our most precious citizens. No, I do not feel this legislation is a total fix for this escalating problem, but I do feel that my legislation provides a common-sense approach to a topic that deserves much-needed discussion.

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