“I don’t think we should have guns unless there’s a present danger,” TEDxYouth talker Coumba Diallo says, ending her presentation. Here’s a present danger: our education system. We can forgive the TED talk brand for degenerating into a platform for pure propaganda (e.g., Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence jefe Dan Gross‘s TED blast). Capitalism uber alles. But how do we forgive a school system that promotes and rewards unthinking anti-gun rights animus? What were you taught about guns and gun rights in grade school?

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77 Responses to Question of the Day: What Were You Taught About Guns in Grade School?

    • Nada. In those days, schools actually taught kids reading, writing, and arithmetic rather than progressive politics. Hard to believe that any of us survived that type of unenlightened education…

    • Sorry brian i couldent find the leave a reply button…
      ANYWAY. When i was a kid i saw the secomd ammendment in a book about the constitution and asked a teacher for an in depth explanation. “Firearms are for self defense, hunting, sports etc. You never know when you might need one.”

      Besides when i was a kid i always felt firearms were just tools. For certain professions and people a firearm was kind of like a wrench or a drill. You wouldent make wrenches and drills illegal so why make firearms illegal.

      • Once the anti-gun mob figures out that the average home tinkerer can easily build a sub-machine with a few power tools, they will want to license and regulate or ban Home Workshops.

    • True story: my AP US History course (taught circa 2000), in the chapter on the Bill of Rights, had a sub-chapter of a page or 3 dedicated to each enumerated right. Spelled out the historical context, that right’s history (or lack thereof) in English common law, why the founders were motivated to include it, what it’s modern day interpretation was, etc. All the amendments except for the 2nd of course. Went from 1st to 3rd. Only mention of the 2nd was in the summary at the end of the chapter, there was a bullet point item that said something to the effect of “The 2nd Amendment permitted the bearing of arms as part of the militia, at the time the country’s only military force”

  1. I was taught that civilian volunteers with guns held off an army of thousands at an old Spanish mission for several days and bought time for a rebel leader to retreat safely with the rest of his volunteer army to regroup.

  2. I am pretty certain the subject was never even mentioned. Maybe I forgot, but I *do* remember I was in 3rd grade when “under god” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, and I remember asking the teacher what that was supposed to mean, since its placement reduced the meaning of that passage from easy to understand to outright nonsense. She answered that she didn’t know.

    • Senator McCarthy was convinced that since the Commies were godless, none of the godless commies and commie sympathizers would say the Pledge of Allegiance if god was in it. Or something like that. Eisenhower signed it into law.

  3. Nothing.Absolutely nothing. I shot a22 sixgun and a boltaction 22 with my dad. School daze was pretty much Ozzie &Harriet in the 50’s and 60’s…all dad taught was point and shoot. No eye and ear protection of course.

  4. We were taught the 2nd Amendment was a vital enumerated Right. Although most teachers agreed with the nfa and its need to prohibit automatics. A notion I never agreed with, nor would ever agree with.
    Firearms were of the thought that they were tools and we were taught on their function and safe use, and were never promoted as some evil death machine.

  5. I went to kindergarten in the fall of 1950. I don’t remember anything about it except the graham crackers and the tiny glass bottles of milk, then the nap… 🙂 I don’t remember much about the rest of my elementary school experience either, except for the fact that I was not allowed to spend the entire time reading.

    Through high school and college, I can’t remember anything related to guns except the endless “history” stuff about all the wars. No “anti-guns” propaganda from teachers, and nothing to promote them either, but in our rural community many of the boys brought their .22 rifles along to school and nobody thought anything bad about it if they behaved themselves. I didn’t think about wanting one then… I wanted more books and more time to read. 🙂 That never changed, but I have plenty of guns myself now.

    Just got notification about a county program “summer camp” that I used to volunteer for. The top activity listed for the campers, aged 9 to 13, is “target practice.” 🙂

    • To this day I still love milk and graham crackers.

      Those naps. Oh, those glorious naps! 🙂

      (Later on, it got better when we could choose who we wanted to ‘nap’ with. *wink*).

      Oh, yeah, the guns thing. Well, since I grew up on military bases, everyone I knew thought guns were pretty cool.

      Especially the big honkin’ ones on those loud airplanes…

      • 🙂 Had fun writing it. My mama always insisted that “school” was what you made of it, but pretty much everything worth learning comes from living your life thoughtfully, usually mentored by a few people some years ahead of you in that. My sister and I were reading the classics before “kindergarten,” and we both found “school” pretty boring. There was no option for “homeschooling” then, but after reading about it years later, that’s pretty much what our mother did anyway. At least we had plenty of opportunity to learn and enjoy learning outside of school… something for which I’ll always be grateful. And my sons had those opportunities as well.

  6. I don’t remember guns ever coming up in elementary school. I am probably in the last generation of people who did receive civics training in high school but I was never so fortunate as to be given talking points from a political activist group ahead of time to mindlessly spout as fact to a group of uneducated folks for their endearing accolades.

    When I was in high school, I was encouraged to do independent research on such things and to cite relevant points from multiple perspectives on any political issues. I guess I was fortunate.

  7. The most I recall about the subject were call outs of specific technologies (flintlock, Pennsylvania Rifle, Colt Navy, early machine guns, Gatling, etc) that had decisive effects on historic outcomes. There was never any criticism or approval… Just fairly dry commentary, in much the same way the cotton gin was mentioned, or the Model A Ford. I attended Catholic school 1st thru 12th

  8. Present danger: that kid, her teachers, her parents. Failures all around to think, to teach, to understand. Sigh.

  9. Not much in school that I can remember. Those skills, and attitudes about them, were pretty much left up to kids’ parents. I was fortunate to learn how to shoot when I was 7 or 8. My father, being a pretty typical ‘good ‘ol boy’ figured that when you were old enough to hold a gun you ought to be old enough to learn how to shoot. I distinctly recall practicing gun safety with my bb gun when I was quite small. Although such things were not a part of school instruction, in my little town there was a general expectation that knowing about this stuff was expected of children, both boys and girls. But, then, this was a time when little kids had the run of the town and might be gone from home from morning to early evening. The idea of “helicopter parenting” wasn’t on anybody’s mind. Halycon days.

  10. Grade school for me was 55-60 years ago. I recall nothing taught about guns, although I do remember being told that switchblade knives were very bad things owned only by hoodlums and gangsters. This made me want one, naturally.

  11. I “graduated” from 8th grade in 1960. (Unlike today, back then we didn’t “graduate” from grade school. We called it “going on to high school.”)

    Anyhow, I don’t remember anything ever being said about guns by the teachers. We kids all talked about taking hunter safety training, however, and we got it. We all had BB guns, and I had plenty of cap guns when I was little.

  12. I was taught the four basic safety rules- safe direction, finger off trigger, keep unloaded until ready to use / still treat as loaded, and be sure of target and what was behind it.
    Then we did, like a week of every afternoon 20 to 30 minutes of safe gun handling with mock wooden rifle cut outs. Then the next week we finally got to go to the air gun range for a total of proabbly three hours- they kinda taught marksmanship- I mean I don’t remember them actually advocating any bad habits- but we weren’t really there to learn how to shoot- some of the parent volunteers tried hard to help teach marksmanship, but the only thing the school was really worried about was safe gun handling. Rinse and repeat from fourth grade through sixth grade. In middle school no shooting, just a once a semester lecture on firearms safety. In high school, no organized firearms lectures pro or con, but one teacher did have a habit of going off at tangents on anti-gun rants. Oddly enough, the govt teacher in the constitution and American history class was fairly pro gun. But that’s when I got onto the rifle team and started shooting competitively.

  13. I started first grade in 57. Our school had no kindergarten. I grew up playing all the usual games, shooting each other with toy guns, sticks or fingers. My father was a WW2 Army Ranger and fought in North Africa, landed at Anzio and fought through Sicily and Italy. I never saw him own or pick up a gun for any reason. He had no problem with us learning to shoot or owning guns though and that was done by my maternal grandfather and uncle who were into hunting.
    In 7th grade our school taught firearms safety for the first half of the year to all students, girls and boys, and upon completion we got a firearms safety certificate and a patch from the State of Minnesota.

  14. I’ve got a little anecdote that is pretty insane (or not insane at all, which is itself quite surprising). I went to elementary school in the early 2000s (I seem to be one of the youngest guys here), in California. And not just California, but in the freaking Bay Area, of all places. I distinctly remember that in kindergarten, they had this little portion of the classroom (a single shelf, really), they called the doo-dah dump. It was a stretch of counter with a few boxes of colored construction paper cut into a variety of shapes and sizes, and we were encouraged to take what we wanted and glue them together into whatever we could dream up. In addition to plenty of rocket ships, I remember one day making a little 2D rifle. Very crude, of course, but definitely a gun. And in case there was any abmiguity, I also remember putting it to my shoulder and running around the classroom, chasing my friend while making little “pew pew” sounds. The teacher got angry at me, but ONLY because I was running around and being loud. Given the state of school in general and California in particular, I’m honestly kind of surprised they didn’t call the freaking SWAT team on my 5 year old ass.

  15. I was in grade school in the 90’s and I can’t remember guns ever being brought up, positively or negatively. I seem to remember a policeman talking to our class once about safety in general and he said if we ever found a gun to tell an adult. Nothing too radical.

  16. The boys in my 2nd grade class started making guns with building blocks. The teacher confiscated all the gun shaped pieces and ripped them apart in front of us. That’s Los Angeles school district for ya.

  17. Here’s a clear and present (and permanent) danger, when you need a gun, the circumstances won’t also let your dumb ass sh_t one out in a hurry.

    Even the simplest firearms and ammo are far beyond the shade tree mechanic’s doable-ness if a need came in a hurry. Loss of the necessary knowledge, skill sets, and expertice is a real problem (see Colt firearms famous and nearly unrepeatable snake revolver division, and the fact that .223 brass is essentially made by only 2 companies in America, and one is only coming in line and may still need to work bugs out).

    Schools should be subserviant to its students/students’ parents, and provide reading, writing, arithmetic, and the training to learn to learn, then they need to FING KILL THEMSELVES before they think about introducing any other Fing thing, especially, if they can’t get the other done.

  18. By seventh and eighth grade a lot of the farm kids had already started driving, so a common refrain in the fall was “if you have your hunting rifle in your truck, please park across the street by the fire department building.”

    This was only about 20 years ago in MT. No longer that way, from what I hear.

  19. Schools don’t just teach unthinking anti-2nd animus; public schools teach unthinking, period. It’s all about the feels & the fair.

    Add in the complete subversion of what “respect” means, and the absence of integrity (it’s always someone else’s fault), and public schools become weapons of mass destruction.

    But what did I get taught about guns in grade school? “Don’t touch, get an adult” was the long & short of it. And during hunting season; “Don’t climb fences/trees with one, unload until you’re in the blind, and dirt/deer/sky.”

    It wasn’t until the mid ’80s when I got out of gradeschool and moved to Florida, when I first encountered institutionalised propaganda… along with prototypes of Common Core.

  20. “what if gun violence didn’t exist?”
    Then we would have every other kind of violence you can imagine. Still. But there would be no effective self defense. Might would rule. Gangs of two or three would kick in doors fairly secure in the knowledge that, by sheer numbers and muscle, they could overwhelm any reasonable resistance. Oh sure, a 30 year male MMA fighter might be ok against one or maybe two adversaries, but no one else would be.

    • Oh and Jr. NRA Wednesday night, 45 minutes on the BB gun range in THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GYM and, 45 minutes hunter safety in the cafeteria. The program was packed with kids.

  21. “I don’t think we should have guns unless there’s a present danger”

    If the schools are turning out “thinkers” of this quality in large numbers, we, as a country and a culture, are totally fucked.

    Even a tiny bit of critical thought should lead one to conclude, “Wait, if you need a gun when there’s danger, doesn’t that mean you should have and know how to use the gun before the danger appears?” Danger isn’t going to politely wait for you to go find one.

  22. It never came up. A more important topic was how to survive the trip to the outhouse and back when it was 35 below.

  23. Just history in school.

    I remember duck hunting with my dad when I was so young all I had was a daisy760 pump master bbs gun. Those were the days. Didn’t bag many ducks until I got my 28ga though lol.

  24. Gun violence didn’t exist much before 1400. And the world was a place of peace and plenty for all.

    Oh, look. A unicorn.

  25. It depended on the teacher. For the most part, guns were only touched upon in a history context. However, I remember the anti-drug guest instructor (pre-DARE) made the comment that, “only police and criminals have guns” with a bunch of context that essentially reinforced what a typical anti gun nut in NYC would say today.

      • Yeah. Pretty much a self fulfilling prophecy although at the time (1980’s and 90’s) there were still quite a few long guns in private hands throughout the city. Especially with business owners in those high crime days.

  26. I don’t remember guns being talked about at all in grade school but I do remember that we ran around on the playground shooting each other with our fingers and no one cared.

    To the best of my knowledge the first real talk of guns in school was in the fall of 1999 when, because of the fact that over the summer the state legislature had changed the laws because of Columbine, guns were no longer allowed on campus. This prompted daily announcements that fall that you could no longer legally bring your rifle or shot gun to school in your car and park it on campus. That set of announcements was made leading up to and through every hunting season for the next couple of years.

  27. I don’t remember it coming up in grade school in Wyoming in the 60s. I do remember getting to shoot BB guns while closely supervised at a couple of Cub Scout functions.

    When I was 11 the Boy Scouts sponsored the Hunter Safety Course. Our instructor was the Scoutmaster. I got to qualify with his Remington Nylon 66.

  28. It’s interesting. I was taught what “the British are coming” meant. They were coming to confiscate that stuff in the armory. Back then (late 60’s and early 70’s) it was much more of a neutral thing from the teachers. In fact, it was almost like they (the British) were coming to take our protection (the teachers were teaching this back then). By the late 70’s and early 80’s (college), there was a lot more bias both in History and English communication classes but it wasn’t anything like now where falsehoods are made up and taught as truth.

  29. I went to school from K-12 in New York City from the mid 80’s to the late 90s. The ONLY thing that we were taught, year after year, was that guns were for special people like policemen, the government, and the military and not for “regular people.” When I was in high school a kid killed himself with his father’s handgun and the only thing the teachers and counselors wanted to talk about was the fact the father shouldn’t have had a gun. They completely dismissed the fact that the kid was seriously mentally ill and that he used a home made explosive to bust open his father’s gun storage unit.

    I only experienced freedom after moving out of NYC after living there for 30 years.

  30. 1980’s massachusetts, metrowest: Every year, the town safety officer (one of the town police officers) would come in and basically give the eddie eagle “dont touch guns you find randomly laying around on the ground” speech, (this was before eddie eagle existed). We might have had a filmstrip as well. That was it.

    The really cool presentation was fire safety cartoon that had the cat waiting outside for his house to explode, becuase his idiot owners left open gasoline cans next to the propane hot water heater. I still can’t find it on youtube

  31. All the boys in my 7th grade got a Hunters Ed class as a PE credit. This was the around 1980 in southern Arkansas. I don’t remember what the girls did instead. We learned the difference between shotguns, rifles, calibers, gauges, chokes, etc. It’s one of the best classes I ever had.

  32. My grade school experience was one of reading, writing, and arithmetic. It was a private school, so all of the kids had parents who gave a damn, and made sure we were ready to learn and already had the ABC thing down before we started. Later, in history class, we learned the examples of human liberty being won which are mentioned in other comments.
    Guns was a subject left to the parents, almost always the dads. My dad taught me that guns were especially bad when being wielded by hordes of Chinese soldiers who were trying to overrun your position, and that the only remedy thereto was the use of guns in opposition. He didn’t do any hunting, saying that he’d done enough killing in Korea.

  33. I was in grade school for latter Reagan and then early Bush. I don’t remember any politics about guns back then but I’m sure it was somewhere. Anyway, I went to grade school in NYC and thankfully, nobody in school was even thinking about guns back then enough to consider talking about them in that setting. I actually don’t remember any discussion about it through all of school including college. Growing up there, you just didn’t even consider the thought of someone having a – gasp – *gun*.

    It was probably a combination of feeling safely protected from the perceived “danger” of guns there. I should ask my buddy who is a teacher there now if they have any programs, probably safety drills if anything. Actually I do remember now having safety drills in high school where we would just lock all the classroom doors when a bell went off, after it being announced. They didn’t even mention what we were drilling for, but if you cared to ponder it, you knew. I thought it was odd that we would drill for something like that. Fire drills, sure, but what did we think was going to happen? Then I was a few months from graduating when Columbine happened. I still don’t think we considered if it could happen there because “this is NYC”. Like, that sort of thing just doesn’t happen here. I don’t think we were so naive that we thought there were no guns in NYC, although there certainly are fewer. Legal ones anyway.

  34. Honestly nothing, and I’m not THAT old. That was the job of the parents and the school system in my area stayed out of the propaganda game for the most part.

    The most I could say would be covering the amendments to the constitution

  35. “I don’t think we should have guns unless there’s a present danger”

    Wait — you mean there aren’t going to be any more mass shootings, no more armed robberies, no more thugs beating people up, no more barbarians breaking into people’s houses and businesses? I must have missed the news about that cure….

    So long as I can find so much as a single report of crime against person and/or property in the news, there’s most certainly a “present danger”.

    • I noticed that some bad person must have edited out her recitation of qualifications to even have her opinion listened to. Like, who the hell are you, and what makes you think you might be correct about anything, whatsoever?

  36. I don’t really recall guns being discussed on school, except tangentially in the context of the phrase “going postal.”

    I do recall watching Saturday morning cartoons interspersed with Schoolhouse Rock educational cartoons. My favorite was the Revolutionary War one. I remember singing “Take your powder, and take your gun. Report to General Washington. Hurry men, there’s not an hour to lose!” up and down the elementary school halls, feeling proud and patriotic. I never got in trouble.

  37. I was in gradeschool during the late 1950s-early 1960s in a small rural town in S. Wisconsin, and I don’t remember being taught anything in school about guns except we were told not to bring one to school. I believe in high school some of the boys who had cars had rifles or shotguns in their vehicles during hunting season. Otherwise, everything I learned about guns was from my dad or my friends (and their dads).

    As far as leftist propaganda in school goes, I first saw that when I was a high school junior and we got an English lit teacher straight out of the U. of Wisconsin – she was all about social causes – an early SJW – but we boys liked her because she was pretty, built like a brick sh*thouse, and wore mini-skirts. With the universities indoctrinating students in the “leftist way,” I suppose her type (at least the mind-set) is much more the norm these days.

  38. Nothing

    I did a book report on Guns of the World (book in the elementary library) in the 4th grade. My focus was on the difference between revolvers and pistols.

    In the 5th grade, I did a How-To report on loading a single action revolver (my Bearcat).

    No hysterics or heart attacks from my teachers No visits from the principal or child services (don’t think they existed).

    In high school our Vo-Ag class was where 9th graders all took the hunter safety course and we shot on the football field

    Some things were better in the 70s

  39. I was a highschool freshman at the time of Columbine. Suddenly, if you bagged your limit of doves before school and left your shotgun locked in your truck in the school parking lot (quite common in rural Texas), you were likely to be arrested. Wearing any camo (also common) or wearing all black would get you sent home.

    Before that, maybe we heard “if you find a gun, tell an adult” when we were little.

  40. Taught about guns in Grade School?

    Hell from Sept ’68 until June of ’77 in a number of classrooms I learned bout the most dangerous “Assault Weapon” ever manufactured, the heavy wooden ruler, wielded by an elderly Catholic nun who had NO reservations about dispensing Corporal Punishment to the back of your hands. By 8th Grade she had gotten her hands on one student’s heavy 1/4″ thick aluminum ruler, that hurt like a ****…

  41. I grew up in the People’s Republic of New Jersey. Started grade school in 1957 so I’m another old dinosaur. I remember a kid bringing his dad’s war souvenir Japanese rifle complete with bayonet to 1st or 2nd grade “show and tell”. The rifle was about twice as long as he was. Another student brought in a Samurai sword and all the teacher said was “Be careful. Those things are really sharp.” So in Jersey in those far off days nobody got thrown out of school or put in jail. The school administration didn’t collectively wet it’s pants at the idea that somebody had a rifle. I do remember that somebody put the word out if we were going to bring lethal items to school we should check with our teacher first. This was in a pretty solid working class town where most of our fathers had served in the military – rumor said that our vice principal had commanded a tank platoon in Italy.

  42. I was taught guns never solved anything, except for slavery and Nazism, both of which were caused by religion.

  43. I don’t remember much about firearms being brought up in school. With the exception of a class discussion about which rights in the US Constitution to keep in the event of an alien invasion (of the sci-fi verity) where we would lose have the bill of rights. Interestingly enough, the Second Amendment survived. This was in Suburban MD. Columbine happened a year after I graduated from High School. I think there were more concerns about students drinking than firearms.

  44. In the early 1970s I remember when “officer friendly” came to I think my 3rd grade class. He had his gun and talked about it. After that no discussion about guns in my Sacramento California schools. But at the time there was no negative stuff either.

    I’m currently researching a college paper on the positive aspects of having firearms education in the elementary school level. To my surprise there is a great deal of history about rifle teams in high schools all across America, and at the college level as well.

    If anyone has information about rifle teams from the past or shooter education, please post a link. Any information would be helpful. I’m gun owner generation 2.0. When I become a teacher maybe I can change my little part of the world.

  45. I was taught precisely nothing BY the school, but I was trained on a .22LR bolt rifle IN the school. The year was 1967, I was 12, there were 30 or so in the class, and we used the lunchroom for dry instruction w/ firearms. The last couple classes were in another building with a basement firing range.

  46. We had a “hunters ed” class in middle school (early 90’s) accompanied with “boater safety”. Can’t say either were educational but no one got shot and I give them credit for trying. God bless the great state of South Carolina.

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