Public School Students To Take Gun Courses

Photo by Joel Moysuh on Unsplash

( – The Tennessee state legislature has approved a bill, now awaiting Governor Bill Lee’s signature, that mandates the inclusion of “age-appropriate and grade-appropriate” gun safety education in public schools starting from the next academic year.

Representative Chris Todd, a Republican and the bill’s sponsor, advocated for the bill in a February hearing, highlighting its importance in preventing firearm accidents and promoting a sense of responsibility and awareness among gun owners. The bill, known as HB 2882, was passed by the Tennessee Senate with a 24-3 vote and had previously cleared the House in February. If Governor Lee signs it, the implementation of the gun safety courses is set for the 2025-2026 school year.

The proposed gun safety education would be delivered mainly through video and online materials, focusing on safe firearm storage, school safety measures, and instructing students on how to act safely if they encounter a firearm, emphasizing the importance of alerting an adult. The bill explicitly states that the curriculum will exclude the use of live ammunition, live fire, or actual firearms in lessons.

Senator Paul Bailey, a Republican, explained that the curriculum aims to teach children the proper actions to take if they encounter a firearm, including staying away from it and reporting the discovery.

The legislation mandates that the gun safety lessons remain politically neutral, not delving into debates over gun rights, gun violence, or the Second Amendment. An amendment that would have allowed parents to exempt their children from this training was rejected by Senate Republicans.

Supporters of the bill liken it to essential safety measures such as fire drills, arguing for its educational value in enhancing gun safety awareness. However, critics, like Democratic Senator Jeff Yarbro, argue that the legislation fails to address the underlying issues of gun violence and the mishandling of firearms by adults, placing undue responsibility on children to navigate the consequences of such adult negligence.

Should the bill become law, the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will collaborate to set the curriculum’s content, specifying the appropriate age and grade levels for the gun safety lessons.

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