While a majority of schools have decided to ban guns from the premises and teach students that guns are bad, other schools have armed staff and teachers or hired armed security guards to protect students.
And at least two school districts have decided the best approach is to teach students how to handle firearms in a hunter’s education course.
The Clarksville and North Butler school districts in Iowa have added mandatory hunting safety courses to their physical education curriculum, according to KGAN.
Beginning in the spring semester, junior high school students in both of those districts will now be required to complete 10 hours of hunters education. The main premise behind the addition of the course to the curriculum is to teach students how to safely handle firearms so as to lessen the likelihood of an accidental shooting at home or incidents of gun violence in the schools.
Middle school students will have the option of enrolling in a course on hunter safety. Parents can opt their children out of the course.
Joel Foster, a superintendent who works in both districts, said the idea originated about a year ago during a discussion among school board members about school safety.
“It’s not just about kids that are going to be hunters. It’s about all kids learning how to handle a firearm in a safe manner,” Foster said. “Any time that a kid might be exposed to a firearm they need to make sure they know how to handle it and make sure it’s safe.”
There were no political implications behind the decision to implement the course, which was meant only to provide additional educational opportunity to students rather than spark controversy, Foster said.
He added that he had received plenty of positive feedback from parents about the idea.
The two districts have partnered with Butler County Conservation to help teach the week-long course, which will not include the use of live firearms or ammunition in the classroom. However, students will be required to take part in a field day as part of the course.
Conservationist Steve Martin said his group was more than happy to work with the school districts on the course, which in his view was teaching students not only about firearm safety but also such things as “ethics and personal responsibility.”
Local resident Bruce Burroughs told KGAN that he supported the addition of the course.
“It’ll save lives and it’ll teach people respect for weapons,” he said.
Foster also noted that in addition to the positive feedback he’d received from parents and the local community, he had received inquiries from other school officials and teachers from around the country.
“I received a phone call from a state representative in Vermont and he asked how we pushed it through because it’s something he’d like to see happen out there,” Foster said. “I’ve got emails from teachers in other places that want to add it into their curriculum.”
Teaching hunters education and firearm safety to students is a great idea, one that will likely result in at least some students becoming more familiar with and less fearful of firearms.
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