Friday, July 09, 2004

Keep Guns in School?

Blogger Joel Keralis at Good Morning America thinks so:

The debate concerns the Trap Shooting program at Norris High School.

Many towns in rural areas across the country have trap shooting programs, but what is different about the one here at Norris is that we have a trap shooting range on school property; something that sets our program apart from just about every other school in the nation.
The problem is that certain people are convinced that one day, for no apparent reason, some deranged kid is going to take one of the shotguns used for trap and go on a shooting spree. The leader of this group of individuals is a certain Sandy Wescott of Hickman. Wescott claims to be a "concerned parent" although she doesn't even have any children that attend Norris.
Now for the truth about the apparent safety issues. First off, all trap team members are required to take a firearms safety course before they can be a member of the team. This effectively eliminates incompetence from the scene. Next, the safety rules are extremely strict, and must be followed to the letter of the law if the students want to remain on the team. There are staff members on hand at all times during practice, and no horseplay whatsoever is tolerated. Thirdly, the Trap team has the best safety record of all the extracurricular activities at Norris. There have been many more serious injuries to Marching Band members. In fact, there have been no injury accidents in the history of the Norris trap program.
(Via ShowCase)

I would go one step further and require that all public schools have a gun safety course instituted as part of the curriculum, which would require at least some target practice, although I would be flexible about how that requirement was fulfilled. Airguns would be acceptable in extremely poor settings, but actual firearms should be used where practical. The point is to get people familiar with the operation of guns and eliminate or reduce their irrational fear of them.

People who advocate "sensible gun laws" usually promote requiring handgun owners to obtain a license before purchasing a gun. One major argument they frequently use is that we already require a license for driving a car, and gun use is at least as dangerous. (It isn't really: cars are involved in injuries or fatalities much more frequently than firearms -- by a factor of about 40 -- but we'll let that pass.) Taking the argument at face value, we should note that we also require schools to provide driver training classes to all students, frequently including behind-the-wheel training. Why should guns be different.

On a similar note, one commonly advocated remedy for the prevalence of AIDS and other STDs is sex-education. While this doesn't usually involve "behind-the-wheel" training, (at least not in my high school -- that was left as homework), there are programs that hand out free condoms. It seems strange that a similar focus on education is not usually advocated for the issue of gun-safety.

No comments: