Photo courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
In a time when the mainstream media scoffs at the Second Amendment and likes to portray firearms as evil, it is more important than ever that young people are exposed to firearms in a positive and safe manner. Without this exposure, young people are all too often left with only those negative media impressions.
Schools are the focus of much of our educational experiences, and it is noteworthy that, across the country, a growing number of schools are at least offering their students the chance to get a positive exposure to firearms—and by extension, our Second Amendment rights—through hunter-education courses.
In Iowa, for example, two school districts have required their middle school students to take a hunter-safety class that includes firearms-safety instruction, according to the Des Moines Register.
“Students from the Clarksville and North Butler school districts will learn how to safely handle a gun during a physical education course focusing on hunter safety. But Joel Foster, the superintendent for both districts, said he hoped the course will prepare students to react in the event of an active shooter situation,” said the Des Moines Register.
“We’ve done everything to make [students and district employees] as safe as possible at school with cameras ... locks,” said Superintendent Foster. “We would like them to be able to deal with a situation that comes up.”
The students use inoperable firearms and replica ammunition to learn how to load and unload the firearms, the proper techniques for manipulating firearms and, of course, how to safely use firearms.
“We know not all kids are going to hunt,” Foster said. “This is an alternative to sitting on your hands and not doing anything. It’s being proactive to handle things the best manner as possible if something occurs. Through education, kids know guns aren't toys.”
Last year, neighboring Illinois—not a state exactly known for its pro-firearms politicians or the gun laws they make—passed a bill allowing schools the option to include hunting-education and firearms-safety classes in their curriculums. It was signed into law by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D).
“Hunting in Illinois is still very popular, and students can learn about hunting as a sport. Hunters have respect for guns,” State Rep. Monica Bristow (D) told Fox News, underscoring that the legislation stirred no opposition. “If people have to do the education course to obtain a hunting license, anyway, why not be able to do this in school?”
State Sen. Jason Plummer (R), a co-sponsor of the bill, said, “Students who are exposed to lessons in hunting safety have a greater chance of respecting firearms and using them properly for the rest of their lives. As the law is shifting to emphasize the importance of safe handling, adopting legislation like this could make for an accessible path for students to learn these methods in-depth, early on in their lives.”
Four schools in South Dakota also offer hunter education for middle school students as a component of physical-education classwork; in fact, a good number of state game agencies have programs to bring hunter education into school settings, at the request of the schools. This includes the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and Tourism with its “Hunter Education In Our Schools Program.”
As the program’s website notes, the students who take this course learn the difference between state regulated hunting laws, safe firearms handling, how to understand and identify the many types of firearms and actions and how to practice safe firearms cleaning and storage in the home.
Well done, Kansas Wildlife and Parks!