Virginia Schools May Add Optional Gun Safety Education to Elementary Curriculum

Friday, September 23, 2011

Virginia's Board of Education is expected today to hand off legislation to local school districts allowing them to add gun safety to elementary school curriculum.

The state's General Assembly approved a measure last April that required the Board of Education to design course materials in line with the National Rifle Association's Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program guidelines to teach elementary students about gun safety.

The curriculum includes lessons ranging from distinguishing those who use guns professionally to recognizing and catching firearms on school property, WTVR reports. Individual districts will be able to decide whether to adopt the curriculum.

The legislation passed last year states that the firearms curriculum's goal is to "promote the protection and safety of children enrolled in the public schools." The curriculum should also include accident prevention and "shall integrate firearm safety education into appropriate subject areas, if feasible, to ensure that every elementary grade student completes the course of study in firearm safety education."

The NRA's Eddie Eagle program targets young elementary school students and uses materials like workbooks and videos. From the program's website:

"The purpose of the Eddie Eagle Program isn't to teach whether guns are good or bad, but rather to promote the protection and safety of children. The program makes no value judgments about firearms, and no firearms are ever used in the program."

But critics called for more inclusive standards and guidelines if districts choose to include gun safety in its curriculum. Lori Haas, spokesperson for the Virginia Center for Public Safety and mother to a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, told FoxNews.com last April that the legislation is an unnecessary burden on the school board, as well as a "freebie to a special interest group."

"I personally don't think firearm safety has a place in the schools. That's up to the parents to teach that at home," Haas told FoxNews.com. "For the General Assembly and governor to dictate to the Board of Education in writing curriculum is not their area."

In April, a Houston kindergartener brought to school a loaded gun that accidentally fell and fired, injuring the student and two of his peers. Just a few weeks later, a 10-year-old boy allegedly fired a BB gun in his 4th grade classroom in Denver.

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