Republicans want to mandate that the NRA teach your kids about gun safety

Gun Rights


Opinion: Republican legislators want to mandate that Arizona kids take a gun safety class. They just don’t want to actually do anything to keep kids safe from guns.

Arizona kids may be struggling to read, having been set back by a two-year-old pandemic of disease and a decades-old epidemic of bad state leadership, but don’t fret, parents.

The Legislature has hit upon a solution.

Mandated gun safety classes, taught with materials thoughtfully provided by the NRA.

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Lest you think that’s the National Reading Association, think again.

House Bill 2448 would require school districts and charter schools to provide gun safety training to students in grades six through 12. And woe be to parents if a certain legislator finds out they removed their child from the class.

While the bill doesn’t specify a particular gun safety course, the sponsor, Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott Valley, on Monday told the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee that his bill is designed so that schools would use the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe program.

Studies show NRA program is ineffective

Never mind that the cartoon eagle is designed to teach preschoolers through fourth graders what to do if they come across a gun.

Or that several studies, including one by the American Academy of Pediatrics, have found the program is basically worthless when kids who have been through it encounter guns in real-life situations.

“This is not a reason why we should stop teaching firearms safety altogether,” Nguyen said, in reply to Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, who pointed to a North Dakota State University study that concluded the NRA program was ineffective in keeping kids safe.

Of course, he doesn’t see that as a reason to keep the powerhouse gun lobby out of our schools. Not in Arizona, where even our gubernatorial candidates squabble over who is the NRA’s lifetime-iest member of them all.  

Nguyen, who works as a coach for the Arizona Scorpions Junior High-Power Rifle team and is president of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association, says he has found the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program to be effective.

He notes that 104 children died in 2021 from accidental shootings and that his bill would help protect children.

“If you don’t think that it’s critical that we teach our children to be safe around guns,” he said to Democrats who opposed the bill. “If you want to close your eyes and say you know what, 104 kids, it’s not worth teaching … .”

There are better ways to keep kids safe

You know what might actually help keep kids safe?

A law that makes it a crime to leave your loaded gun lying around so that your child or the neighbor’s child can pick it up and shoot themselves or someone else. Alas, Arizona doesn’t have one of those and I don’t see Nguyen or any other Republican proposing one.

Instead, we have this bill that does nothing but add NRA marketing material to the state school curriculum under the guise of gun safety. I particularly like the student reward stickers, with a picture of Eddie and his “Wing Team” just above that all-important ©NRA.

In fact, the Eddie Eagle program was created in the late 1980s by an NRA lobbyist who was looking to stymie child safety legislation.

The best way to keep kids safe, apparently, is not to require adults to act responsibly but to put the onus on kids to protect themselves.

HB 2448 would require that all Arizona public and charter school students take the gun-safety class unless their parents opt them out. But be warned if you try it.

“I can’t think of any parent in their right mind that wouldn’t want this for their children,” Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said, in response to a suggestion that parental permission be required to take the class. “I don’t think that should be as an opt-in and frankly, if it’s an opt-out, I would forward the name and address of the parent to Child Protective Services if they opted their child out of gun safety training.”

He’d report it as child abuse if you decided not to submit your child to NRA marketing materials? 

What’s next? Joe Camel, to teach our children about the evils of smoking?

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

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