It’s a simple slogan—“Stop! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grown up.”—that has resounded across America for three decades. It’s the four-step sequence that is the heart of Eddie Eagle GunSafe, a program that has reached more than 32 million children and impressed upon them the importance of how to safely respond when they see a firearm.
Responsible gun owners have long known that the notion of gun safety extends beyond how to handle a firearm at the range. With that, the NRA called upon teachers, psychologists and law-enforcement officers to help develop the Eddie Eagle program in 1988.
Eddie Eagle is important for all children because they might come across firearms in the homes of their friends or some place in public where you’d not expect it.
The effectiveness of Eddie’s message is measurable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that the number of unintentional firearm fatalities among children has declined about 80% since the program’s inception, and gun-safety programs are undoubtedly a major component in that drop.
Eddie also has garnered a solid following of supporters among educational and law-enforcement professionals. Endorsements by groups such as the National Sheriffs’ Association, the American Legion, the Police Athletic League, the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers, and the American Association of American Educators support the wide-ranging appeal of the program. Throughout its existence, countless testimonials confirming that children have applied the lessons in real-life situations, thus avoiding injury, have also come in.
In its early days, an adult would don an Eddie Eagle mascot costume and convey the GunSafe message, with Friends of NRA monies funding grants for the costumes and supporting materials. Today, Eddie’s message is more easily available, with free downloads of materials at the Eddie Eagle Treehouse, an interactive website that offers a new animated video, sing-along songs and more that gets the message across in a way that keeps the attention of children in the target age group of 5-9 years old. The relatively new online resources should boost Eddie Eagle’s reach beyond the million-plus annual reach the program has averaged in its first 32 years.
The Eddie Eagle Kid’s Zone will be part of the Great American Outdoor Show, from Feb. 1-9 to the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Penn.