CARDWELL, MO (KAIT) - In addition to math, reading, and writing, a Missouri legislator is proposing school districts arm first graders with gun education.
On Dec. 13, 2012, one day before the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, Republican Senator Dan Brown from Rolla filed Senate Bill 75, a measure that would require school districts and charter schools to annually teach the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program, or an equivalent program to first grade students.
The National Rifle Association developed the Eddie Eagle program.
According to the bill, "The purpose of the program would be to promote safety and protection of children and emphasize how students should respond if they encounter a firearm." Firearms are prohibited when the program is being taught, and school personnel are prohibited from publicly making "value judgements about firearms."
Southland Schools Superintendent Kim Campbell says the district is in the process of implementing several safeguards on campus that should be in place by the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, such as installing security cameras on campus and on school buses, installing "buzz-in" systems at both main offices and installing "newer, safer" doors on the buildings.
Supt. Campbell thinks the proposed bill would work well with the other precautionary measures in protecting the 350 elementary, middle and high school students who attend Southland Schools.
"From what I've read over Senate Bill 75, I'm in favor. I'm not sure if the training needs to start at first grade or maybe a little bit later, but one thing I would change as a superintendent, I would ask my board to allow us to train every year. The same training maybe up through eighth grade because repetition, I believe, is important."
Also included in the bill are requirements for teachers and school employees to participate in eight-hour armed intruder or active shooter training classes, and simulated active intruder and shooter response drills.
Supt. Campbell does not agree with critics who argue that teachers should be responsible for solely teaching.
"If you ask any teacher, any administrator, any educator, they're going to tell you that just goes with the territory. That doesn't concern us at all. We welcome the challenge," he said.
People who do not support the bill also believe introducing children to guns would only increase their interest in them.
Cardwell resident Roxy Harper, who thinks the bill is a good idea, said, "(Guns) are tucked away, they're hidden, they're locked like there's something wrong and forbidden with them, and the first thing a child is going to do is go up to something they don't know anything about and find out what it is all about. So, if they know what it's about, and they know how dangerous it actually is, and that it's not a toy, it's not a game, it's not like you see on TV, it'd be a lot less people getting hurt and shot."
Sen. Brown discussed the proposed bill with the Senate chamber's General Laws Committee Tuesday. No one publicly opposed the bill, and the Committee did not vote on it.