Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

April 18, 2005

Gun Safety in the Schools

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:32 am

My one-time (college freshman year) roommate is one of the smartest, most out-of-the-box thinkers I know. We used to (and sometimes still) talk about all sorts of things, and one of the things we talked about 17 years ago (egads!) was anything and everything about airlines and politics. He once called up SaudiArabian Airlines and asked for a flight to Israel, just for kicks. When told they don’t have flights to Israel (of course), he said, “But it is there, right?” The guy on the other end of the phone said “Yes,” and my friend then told him that since the airline was owned by the Saudi government, and he was therefore an employee of the Saudi government that he — and therefore the Saudi government — had just rec0gnized the existience of the State of Israel. It was one of those moments when you wished you had a videophone to see the look on the guy’s face.

He also had another brilliant idea: we could end all airline hijackings, if we would hand every passenger a gun as he or she got on the plane. “But,” I said, “most people don’t know how to use guns these days.” Even if only a few people need to be able to shoot straight to deter terrorists, people are so ignorant about guns these days that they’ll shoot them by mistake even when there are no hijackers.

“Well, people would have to learn, then,” he said.

“But it would have to be everybody! You’d have to totally re-organize society.” I said.

“Yes, everybody would have to learn,” he said.

“You mean like, have a course for everybody in high school, like driver’s ed?”

“Yes, like that!” he beamed. I’d solved his problem.

Lots of things have changed since 1988. For one things, 35 of the 50 states have passed laws that allow essentially any non-felon to carry a concealed handgun. And, like so many things I thought in 1988 that would never happen in my lifetime — from the fall of the Berlin Wall on down — we might someday see this, too.

Marksmanship for High School Diploma Enacted

[Arizona] Governor Signs Bill, Teaches Actual Gun Safety

A gun-safety bill for children breaks new ground. Worth one credit toward a high school diploma, the course requires Arizona students to safely discharge a firearm at a target to pass. American high schools used to have firing ranges in the basement, but the tradition began fading in the late 1960s. Gun-rights proponents believe that training and education leads to increased safety and responsible behavior.

The bill’s designers, concerned that “gun safety” could be turned into “gun avoidance” by gun-control politics, included statutory rules like the “shoot safely” requirement, to prevent unintended change. Other requirements include: Instruction on the role of firearms in preserving peace and freedom; the constitutional roots of the right to keep and bear arms; the history of firearms and marksmanship; the basic operation of firearms; practice time at a shooting range, and more.

The Arizona Game and Fish Dept. (AGFD), specified by law as the course instructors, are discussing the specifics of the curriculum. AGFD has currently trained more than 18,000 school students in archery, a shooting sport, and are pleased with the final version of the bill, which they supported.

The law began as an idea and rough draft from Bloomfield Press publisher Alan Korwin, who asked, “Why don’t we make marksmanship a requirement for a high school diploma? We know many kids get no gun-safety training, and marksmanship teaches responsibility, improves concentration, and affects national preparedness.” Because a required course would have budget implications and likely sink the bill, State Senator Karen Johnson introduced the class as an elective. It sailed through the Senate unanimously, and through the House by a veto-proof nearly three-to-one margin. Governor Janet Napolitano signed it into law on April 11 (the text follows [See here]).

One television reporter, obviously nervous about providing such education, asked, “Don’t you think kids will rush to line up just so they can get a chance to go shooting?” Without hesitating Korwin replied, “If it’s that popular, and kids get all that safety training and experience, that would be a good thing.”

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