TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Kansas legislators heard a bill that would require schools that teach firearm safety to use a program created by the NRA.
On Wednesday, March 8, the Kansas House Committee on Federal and State Affairs heard Senate Bill 116 – a bill that would standardize firearms safety programs in local school districts.
The legislation, which was requested by Senator Chase Blasi (R-Wichita), was introduced in the Senate in February and was referred to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs.
The bill would “emphasize how students should respond when encountering a firearm.” It would also give local boards of education the right to establish curriculum guidelines for a standardized firearm safety education program. Guidelines should include, but are not limited to:
- Kindergarten and grades 1 – 5 shall be based on the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program offered by the National Rifle Association or any successor program.
- Grades 6 – 8 shall be based on the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program offered by the NRA or any successor program or the hunter education in our schools program by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks or any successor program.
- Grades 9 – 12 shall be based on the hunter education in our schools program by the KDWP or any successor program.
A hearing was held and the Committee recommended the bill be passed in February. Two motions to amend the legislation were then made in the Committee of the Whole and amendments were offered by Senators Cindy Holscher (D-Overland Park) and Dinah Sykes (D-Lenexa). Both amendments were rejected, 12-25 and 8-7 respectively.
During the hearing, Moriah Day of the Kansas State Rifle Association said that children are inherently curious and school boards should have a standard for firearm safety education.
“The Eddie Eagle program that is designated as one of the two standards in this bill makes no value judgments about firearms, no firearms are ever used or displayed as part of the training, and the program covers an important topic that needs to be addressed with kids,” Day said. “Like swimming pools, electrical outlets and matchbooks, firearms are simply treated as a part of everyday life. With firearms found in about half of all American households, it’s a stance that makes sense.”
However, Kansas State Board of Education members Ann Mah and Dr. Deena Horst pointed out that districts are already allowed to provide firearm safety education programs in schools. Therefore, they said they were against the bill.
“We are not aware of any requests from local school districts for standards on firearm safety training from either KSBOE or the Legislature,” said the members. “Further, it may very well be that there are any number of firearm safety training programs besides those mandated in the bill that will meet a school district’s needs.”
Eventually, the Committee of the Whole also recommended the bill be passed. Under an emergency final action vote, the Senate passed the bill 30-8 and sent it to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The House received SB 116 in mid-February and referred it to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs. A hearing was then held again at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 8.
A vote is expected to come on the bill in the next few weeks.
To read the full text of the legislation, click HERE.
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