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Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity to teach a firearm safety class for a local private school. I'm used to lugging around a bunch of guns from place to place but never to an actual school. I prepared an informative slideshow teaching proper unloading techniques and safety rules. There would be no live fire for this class- it was all about what to do if they came across a firearm and/or needed to make it safe.
I was joking with a friend that morning on what I would do on the way to the school if I was pulled over:
Officer: Where you headed?
Me: The Christian School
Officer: Any weapons in the vehicle?
Me: Three rifles and 5 handguns
THAT WOULD NOT GO WELL FOR ME!
I made it safely to the school without incident. It felt awkward bringing the firearms on the school property. Luckily my co-instructor (a friend since childhood) met me there and is close friends with the principal. They set this up knowing this was a great opportunity for the students to learn a valuable life lesson. Parents signed permission slips to have their children participate. We carried the firearms in together and set up the classroom. Soon I began to see eager students peeking in during their break. As they began to file in there were questions about the makes and models. A lot of the students recognized some of the firearms from movies and video games, others were new to them and there were questions like "What's that one?" "Do you have any full-auto?" And there were statements like: "I shot one of those once" or "My dad has that one" I joked that this was the most eager I've ever seen teenagers when it came to being in a classroom.
When class started we went over the NRA's 3 Rules of Safety: 1, Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, 2, Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot, 3, Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use it. We picked a designated "safe direction" for the firearms to be pointed in and maintained it throughout the class. We also went over the classroom rules which included no fooling around. Firearms are not playthings and the kids did a great job treating them with respect.
After patiently listening to all the safety talk and firearm terms we began showing the five boys and four girls how to safely unload each type of firearm. At first we had to remind a few of them to "Keep the muzzle in a safe direction" or "Finger off the trigger" but as they progressed they began to remind themselves and no longer needed the reminder. They unloaded and checked (and re-checked) the firearms and it was amazing to watch as some went from intimidated to confident in their ability to safely manipulate the firearms. Not one student acted out but smiles were all over their faces.
In a lot of high school classes, students want to sit in the back row and avoid being asked questions. These kids were racing to sit in the first row and fighting over who would answer the questions asked (the chocolate reward may have helped with that a little). This all reiterated what I tell people: Children have a natural curiosity when it comes to firearms. They need to be taught about them to quench this thirst for knowledge so they know to respect them and use them safely. We can't prevent children from coming into contact with firearms, but we can teach them what to do if and when they find one.
A local news reporter came in to take footage and interview a student and myself. So far the story has been shared all over Facebook and the vast majority of comments praise the idea of firearm education in schools. I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the kind comments and praise I have received for doing this. To me it's a no-brainer. I'm hoping many schools and groups will encourage this type of education, our country needs it.
I'd like to thank my friend Josh for setting up this opportunity and helping me teach it, the Principal Pastor Todd Bell for allowing and encouraging this class to be taught and all the students who participated and were respectful proving this can be done and taken seriously.
There's hope for the next generation, we can raise responsible gun owners and teach a better way.