Thursday, March 05, 2009

San Diego Bans JROTC Shooting Class

As I have noted before gun safety classes ought to be mandatory for all U.S. citizens, starting in the at least in the teen years. (Prior to Junior HS, kids should have Eddy Eagle-type safety classes that do not involve handling actual guns.) This should be obvious to everyone, but especially to the guns-are-inherently-scary crowd. In no other public health subject do these folks recommend an abstience-only approach. Chad Baus makes a similar point at greater length in a recent article on the USCCA web site (registration required).

Society has determined (after seeing enough homes and apartment complexes burn to the ground because little Johnny was playing with matches) that it cannot be left to parents alone to teach children not to play with matches.
Society has determined (after seeing enough children experience the horrible victimization of sexual abuse) that it cannot be left to parents alone to teach children what to do if they are touched inappropriately.
Society has determined (after seeing enough children on the sides of milk cartons and WalMart bulletin boards) that it cannot be left to parents alone to teach children what to do if a stranger attempts to lure them into their car.
Society has even determined (well, at least our President did when he was an Illinois State Senator) that it kindergartners need to be given sex education.[2]
I simply cannot understand why a society that has decided that parents cannot be trusted to provide the "proper" education on issues like fire safety, sexual abuse, abduction, and even sexually transmitted diseases, is perfectly comfortable leaving the issue of gun accident prevention up to parents.
The NRA has been promoting a safety program for children in grades K-3 since 1998. The Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program tells those youngsters to "Stop! Don't Touch! Leave The Area! Tell An Adult!" if they find a gun.

So, with that in mind, what the hell are the folks in San Diego thinking?
A group of San Diego teenagers successfully convinced the San Diego Unified school board yesterday to dismantle the district's Junior ROTC air-rifle program. The on-campus program has been training young cadets how to shoot for decades.
The district's Junior ROTC air-rifle marksmanship program has a long and distinguished history in the San Diego Unified District. But now the program has been shot down. That's the result of a one-year, student-driven effort.
The program first came under fire last year when JROTC officials introduced air-rifle shooting ranges on the campuses of Lincoln and Mission Bay high schools.
Students, teachers and parents were outraged. Many didn't realize on-campus shooting practice even existed in the district.

As noted in this article, the program is thoroughly concerned with safety (almost to the point of paranoia):
They argue that their instruments, .177-caliber air rifles, shouldn't be classified as weapons because they don't use bullets propelled by gunpowder, but pellets projected by compressed air.
Students are allowed to handle the rifles under close supervision and only after logging a perfect score on a qualifying test. Less than 10 percent of the 1,845 ROTC students make the cut, said Jan Janus, who supervises the district's ROTC programs.
The best shooters, like Elizabeth and Monica, compete on teams, testing their aim in three positions: prone, standing and kneeling. The discipline requires stillness and concentration, coaches contend, and women often excel at it.
“Despite what some of our opponents think, we're not out there training gang members to knock off 7-Elevens and do drive-by shootings,” Janus said.

This is far worse than the brainless "zero-tolerance" policies that other schools have enacted -- protecting their students from the dangers of t-shirts, crayon drawings and chicken fingers -- because this destroys a program that could actually teach someone about gun safety.

The latter article concludes with this optimistic thought:
Another Mission Bay High ROTC member, Zachary Warden, said a classmate has launched a petition drive to challenge the board. One of Andrew's ROTC advisers, Mark Vizcarra, suggests that critics have awakened “a sleeping giant” in the form of students, parents and ROTC backers who will want marksmanship reinstated.

Let's hope so.

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