Oregon Wants to Teach First Graders About Gun Safety

Derek LeBlanc, President of the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation, testifies at a hearing. (Photo: Facebook)

Politicians on both sides of the aisle in Oregon want first graders to attend gun safety classes in their schools.

Senate Bill 801 was introduced this year.  Had the bill passed, it would have allowed public school districts and public charter schools to offer an annual 30-minute firearm safety and accident prevention class to first-grade students.

The curriculum for the class would have to include three subjects:

  1. The proper steps for a child to take upon encountering an unsecured firearm;
  2. The differences between video game violence and real-life violence; and
  3. The dangers of confusing toy guns and real guns.

The classes would have to be taught by a teacher, administrator, law enforcement officer or first responder.  At no time during the class could real firearms or live ammunition be used.

Schools would be required to give written or electronic notice of the class offering to parents and guardians at least seven days in advance and provide an option for families to opt out of taking the class.

The Salem Statesman Journal reported that the bill had strong bi-partisan support in addition to support from the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation.

“Whether you agree with firearm ownership or not, don’t think for a second that your kids can’t come into contact somewhere else, ” said Derek LeBlanc, president of the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation.  “We talk about helmets, stranger danger, the D.A.R.E. program, water safety, anti-bullying . . . There’s more that needs to be done when it comes to education with firearms.”

SEE ALSO: Draconian Oregon Legislation Would Require Permit to Purchase, Cap Mags at 5 Rounds

One of the reasons given for strong bi-partisan support of the bill is specific language that requires the class to be non-political.  The bill specifically states that the instructor “may not encourage or discourage possession or ownership of firearms.”

The Salem Statesman Journal reports the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that gun-related violence is the third leading cause of death for kids aged 1 to 17, beat out only by car crashes in terms of injury-related deaths.  The latest national data shows 74 children ages 14 years and younger died of an accidental discharge of firearms in 2016.  That number jumps to 195 if you include 15 to 24-year-olds.

A public hearing was held on the bill.  The Salem Statesman Journal reports that dozens of people gave testimony at the hearing, many of whom were concerned about what could happen if a child comes across a gun and doesn’t know what to do.

“Allowing the opportunity for education classes in schools would help kids understand the importance of not touching firearms and getting an adult,” wrote parent Maria Sandusky in her testimony, “especially when they may not get that education at home.”

The bill is not expected to pass this session due to procedural deadlines, but supporters of the bill promise that they’ll be back.

“We’ve started a debate and a dialogue,” Derek LeBlanc said.  “Our mantra is ‘zero firearm accidents is the only acceptable goal.’  Hopefully we can go forward and keep helping more kids.”

There are currently no further proceedings related to the bill scheduled for the current legislative session.

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About the author: John Thomas is a U.S. Navy veteran, and a former prosecutor and defense attorney with over 20 years of experience in state and federal courts. He has handled everything from traffic tickets to first-degree murder cases and is a long-time supporter of Second Amendment rights and the rights of individuals to defend themselves, their families and their property.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Mr. Sparkles April 20, 2019, 3:54 pm

    I support the concept of providing some level of firearm safety awareness training for kids who are less and less likely to be getting that training at home. That being said, time and again we have seen that school teachers and administrators, by in large, would not be able to keep their personal political agenda in check long enough to perform this task and would instead use this opportunity to perpetuate the bologna that suggests that we are all sheep who are dependent on the school over, not in addition to, parents for life lessons, and police over, and not in addition to, ourselves for personal protection.

    Why is it that the schools see the logic of teaching kids to have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in addition to the local fire department number but can’t seem to apply the same tiered approach to personal protection?

  • John0132 April 19, 2019, 10:34 am

    The NRA “Eddie the Eagle” training materials meet all requirements. The materials stress Stop, Don’t Touch, Leave the Room, Tell an Adult, without any pro-gun emphasis.

    But, I’m sure Oregon would rather spend millions re-inventing the wheel.

    • Hatchetman May 3, 2019, 1:53 pm

      Sounds about right. I support the idea of educating kids to treat guns appropriately from an early age, but I get concerned when I hear things like “Our mantra is ‘zero firearm accidents is the only acceptable goal.’” Those kind of absolute statements from a group like that are worrisome.

  • Sartech April 19, 2019, 9:04 am

    I have 3 boys, all in their 30’s with familys now. They will all tell you they can’t remember NOT shooting. They’ve known since they were 3 about guns. They know that a revolver is not a pistol but is a handgun. They were 5 or younger when they saw a handgun hollow point round explode a gallon jug of water. If they were at a party as a teenager and someone tried to get stupid about guns, they either straightened them out or left. They each own several firearms and are actively teaching their children (girls and boys) the same lessons they learned from their dad. I never had concern about my children abusing or misusing a gun. The fascination was removed early and replaced with respect and knowledge because there is NO other way to ensure their safety but to teach them. And, we don’t need the government to do it!
    Parents………wake up!

  • Keith April 19, 2019, 8:17 am

    I’m a public school elementary principal in Indiana. We’ve been having gun safety for our second graders for decades. Eddie the Eagle program comes in and teaches them multiple lessons over the course of several weeks. It’s a whole lot more than a half hour course. The program is led by our local public high schools rifle team coach and DNR officers. That’s right, we have a shooting range in our Public High School. It’s a great program with many other area private schools having teams as well.

  • Tony Bell April 19, 2019, 8:06 am

    Wow, what a concept, teaching gun safety. Knowing there are millions upon millions of guns in this country and complete confiscation is impossible, logic dictates knowledge of them is key to controlling safety. This is not new, the ideas has been around since guns were invented. Why then do the gun confiscation, control advocates not push education for gun safety? Because it is all about control. Control of you, and your freedoms. Remember these two truths:
    1. When seconds count, police (help) is only minutes away, protect yourself is the only logical option.
    2. When guns are outlawed and confiscated, only outlaws (criminals) will have guns to their advantage.
    Time to wake-up and think America, before your rights and safety are compromised irreparably. Vote appropriately.

  • Bobs your uncle April 12, 2019, 3:47 pm

    Teaching safety works

    • Bobs your uncle April 15, 2019, 12:28 pm

      I would add, parents, you can play politics or you can put your child’s safety first, The Eddy Eagle program is one of the best established free programs I’ve seen, but its put out by the NRA and they support the 2nd Amendment to the constitution.

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