Two gun rights advocates have filed Initiative Petition 6, which would mandate 6th grade firearm safety instruction in Oregon's public schools, according to the Portland Tribune. It would be voted on in the 2020 statewide general election.
Teachers of the course would be certified by law enforcement or a national or state firearms instruction certification organization. Among the topics covered would be how to respond to an unsecured firearm, how to safely secure a firearm if an adult is absent, and safe muzzle direction. No live ammunition would be used during the classes.
- A local pastor and rabbi, who are the chief petitioners of a proposal in the state to ban semi-automatic firearms, as well as the leaders of Lift Every Voice Oregon (an interfaith coalition), oppose Initiative Petition 6. They say the idea only maintains the status quo of guns as a perpetual danger.
With gun violence on the minds of virtually every parent and educator — and at least half of secondary students — making firearm safety instruction part of the school day seems like a logical idea to some. In the mid-20th century, demonstrations of safe gun use were fairly common in American public schools.
But informational school and community-based gun safety programs do not improve the likelihood that children will not handle firearms in an unsupervised situation, according to new research in Health Promotion Practice. While in some cases the participants could repeat the rules (never touch a gun; leave the room immediately; tell an adult), having that knowledge did not translate to actually using it when a gun was encountered. A new U.S. Government Accountability Office study also bears this out.
A behavioral skills training approach, though, where instruction is combined with modeling and rehearsal in simulated situations, is more effective than programs without that active learning component, found a recent study published in Behavior Analysis in Practice.
An evidence-based report from the American Psychological Association, meanwhile, noted that most gun violence is committed by males. Youth programs that challenge male gender expectations of toughness and violence and offer new social norms for "masculine" may reduce the risk of violence among participants, but more studies are needed. Lastly, the report concluded, campaigns on safe gun storage can not only reduce accidental gun deaths, but prevent violent individuals from accessing guns.