Eddie Eagle (and the NRA) are your first-grader's friend
The Kansas City Star
Just because a bill is poorly conceived and a little wacky by no means diminishes its chances of getting a hearing in the Missouri General Assembly.
That was the case Tuesday afternoon in the state Senate’s general laws committee.
We were there to consider Senate Bill 75, sponsored by GOP Sen. Dan Brown of Rolla, which would require all public schools in Missouri, including charter schools, to introduce students in the first grade to a gun safety curriculum, preferably the one designed by the National Rifle Association.
We even got to watch a segment of a video that would be shown to kids as part of the NRA’a Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program. It featured Eddie himself, a costumed eagle who could easily be a high school football team’s mascot, intervening when a child stumbled upon a gun and reciting the four rules every child should know: Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.
This really is information kids should have. And I’m guessing most schools incorporate it into their basic safety curriculums. I’m also guessing a lot of teachers, administrators and school board members aren’t going to be wild about being told by the Missouri legislature that they have to take time to introduce an NRA curriculum to their first graders . Jamilah Nasheed, a Democratic senator from St. Louis, said as much during the hearing. “If you’re going to spend money on professional development, let’s teach these teachers how to get these kids above proficiency (on the state academic performance tests), she said. Good point.
About the cost. The NRA would pay for the teaching materials, but the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education estimates it would cost about $16 million to train the teachers. Schools could probably find a way to do it for less, but the hefty estimate suggests that they perhaps don’t want to. It seems meant to discourage.
That may not discourage lawmakers, though. The Missouri legislature usually adopts the attitude that it knows best, so who cares what the educators think.
Significantly, though, the NRA lobbyist who spoke at the hearing seemed concerned about the cost also. He didn’t exactly give the bill a ringing endorsement.
Senate Bill 75 is another instance of the Republicans, who profess to disdain mandates, contemplating a mandate. They ought to leave it to local superintendents and school boards to decide if a full-blown gun safety course is necessary.