The video focuses on the fact that a four-year-old discovered a loaded gun underneath a porch. It ignores the more important question: why didn’t anyone teach him about gun safety? The NRA’s Eddy Eagle program‘s “stop, don’t touch, run away, tell an adult” message is aimed at kids like this. Shame on those schools and gun control groups whose hoplophobia bars Eddy from darkening school doors. Meanwhile and in any case, shouldn’t schools go beyond Eddy to teach the four gun safety rules? Or is all gun safety instruction, like religion, best left to parents?

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64 Responses to Question of the Day: Should Schools Teach Children the Four Rules of Gun Safety?

  1. I think firearm safety should be treated the same exact way sex ed is; firearms aren’t going anywhere, and it’s our right to own them, thus teaching kids to “keep away they’re bad!” (abstinence only, anyone?) doesn’t help anyone.

    So, either teach it in class, or let parents opt to send kids to an instructor of their choosing to eliminate bias.

  2. In an ideal world there would be instruction in all practical skills in school. In an even more ideal world you wouldn’t need instruction on such skills at school, because the parents would be responsible and present enough to take care of it. But it seems like neither of those happen much these days.

  3. Yes, yes, 1000x yes.

    The basic 4 rules don’t require one to like or even accept guns, but they do enable anyone–even gun haters–to observe unsafe behavior and react intelligently (report it, GTFO, etc.).

      • “Should not”, yes. But do you really think for a second that the government schools would resist the temptation to demonize guns in a gun safety curriculum?

        In an ideal world, I’d say it would be okay to teach gun safety in government schools. But in the real world, I don’t trust the leftists who run the schools to not f-ck it up or twist it to their political ends.

        • You make a fair point.

          I just remember the days when gun safety WAS taught in elementary school at young ages. They HAVE done it in the past, and did it properly back that.

          But alas, times have indeed changed.

        • “Government” will flavor gun safety training in schools just the way a majority of the voters want it done. Want it done your way, become the majority of voters. You complain loudly when your political enemies get from the courts what they cannot get through legislation, yet you are doing the same.

    • That’s not the point. Firearms education is less control over the fears pushed by anti gun groups. How can you brainwash the masses that ‘guns are evil totems that will deal death and destruction without human interaction’ if a 5 year old can call them out on their bull shit?

      • Because the goal is not for 5 year olds to be calling them on their BS, but for 5 year olds to know not to play with guns at that age, especially without adult supervision, etc.

        Eddie Eagle is not a program of ‘gun acceptance.’ It is 100% geared toward ‘what to do if you find a gun.’

  4. NO-I don’t trust public union left-wing indoctrination centers to do ANYTHING right. Home school folks…

  5. >>Shame on those schools and gun control groups whose hoplophobia bars Eddy from enlightening its school doors.

    Fixed it for you.

    O2

  6. Home school for sure.
    Damn schools can’t even teach any level of truth in the light of facts let alone be trusted with the 2 A.
    2 A. Needs to be passed on by people who love it not by sheep.

    • While I agree that they would (and do) cock up 2A education, this particular question is about teaching firearm safety.

      One can teach firearm safety (Eddie Eagle stuff AND The Four Rules) without touching on whether guns are ‘right’ or ‘needed’ or whatever.

      Guns exist. That can’t be undone. Ignoring them won’t make them go away.

  7. Sure , that would be a good idea in a real world , but not in D L R O W N W O D E D I S P U .
    Today , they would teach ;
    1. Guns are scary monsters , never touch a gun .
    2. Guns kill children , call poleece if you see a gun .
    3. Guns will kill YOU , run from guns .
    4. Don’t run from a gun with scissors in your hand .

      • That’s the first thing that comes to mind every time I hear about the Eddy Eagle program (of which I furiously approve).

        There needs to be a decent acronym for the four EE rules. One kids will remember for life. And certainly for their childhood and adolescence.

        I can write a good report or business letter but my creative writing has never been a strong point.

        Anyone want to take a run at it? I’d be curious to see what more creative minds could come up with.

        And please use the endlessly looped FAST acronym as an example of what not to do. Been hearing that one on terrestrial radio for years (thanks Ad Council) and I still can’t remember what it stands for.

        Sure glad I pay for it. And radio stations play the spot no charge. A taxpayer two-fer!

        But I digress. Seriously, is there an acronym out there to help kids remember what to do if they find a firearm?

  8. I never find anything but change, trash and sometimes rodents under porches. Where are all these porch caches to be found?

  9. The four rules of gun safety should be taught in grade school, middle school and again in high school. In fact they should be required learning to get out of high school. In a nation with more guns than people everyone should be familiar with the basics of gun safety.

    • Yes, and it can be a unit in health, FWIW. As long as it’s treated like sex education, without proselytizing, I’m hoping there would be no problem.

  10. I do equate it to sex Ed in the notion that it can cause life altering events. Ultimately parents should teach such things but a school can and should serve as a back up \reinforcenent. A message about making good life choices is best heard from as many sources as possible.

  11. OMG no. NO! Holy crap no!

    Do you really want the same people to teach Little Johnny the gun rules when they are incapable of teaching him to read, or to write cursive, or to add? I shudder at the thought.

    Let the school incorporate the Eddie Eagle program. With that program, teachers and administrators won’t have to actually, you know, teach or administer, which seems to be beyond their meager capabilities.

    When it comes to public schools, teachers seem to do only one thing well — attend union meetings. Let them stick to that.

  12. Well if they can hand out condoms and birth control out in high schools then surely they can bring in a instructor and teach them how to be safe and show a short video to the kids.

  13. Hmm. I am flummoxed on this one. I think we make children aware of the four rules and teach them to get an adult if they find a firearm — so that the adult can secure the firearm without the child having to handle it. Many children, while meaning well, would not observe all four safety rules without extensive practice and coaching. To think that a 1st grade student would get a 10 minute lesson in school and then, 5 months later, be able to handle a firearm safely for the first time is foolish.

    I like the idea of periodic, brief, and age-appropriate safety reviews. Give children a quick heads up on major accidents like drowning, falling through ice, fire, chemicals/poisons, electricity, gasoline/propane/natural gas, power tools, stepping into traffic, bicycle/skateboard/rollerblade crashes without helmets, falling from ladders/ledges/trees, dogs and other animals, and of course firearms. Maybe have something every two years starting in kindergarten and ending in the 6th or 8th grade.

    And having just read Ralph’s comment above, have an outside entity develop and present this program to children at assemblies.

      • I like the National Rifle Association’s safety programs. The only drawback I see to having NRA do the safety review that I outlined is that it involves mention of many accident risks that have absolutely nothing do with firearms … such as drowning. Would the NRA be the right entity to teach children about the hazards of electricity, drowning, poison, etc. in addition to firearms? I doubt it although I would not oppose it.

    • “…without extensive practice and coaching…”

      That’s the crux of the biscuit, I think. Eddie Eagle for little kids? Absolutely. But teaching the four rules so that they are actually followed actually requires practice, repetition, and reinforcement, with an actual gun-shaped object in the student’s hands so they can both mentally and physically understand the rules and why they exist. Tell someone who’s never handled a gun to not point it at themselves or other people, and they’ll nod and agree and think “Piece of cake. I just won’t point it at anyone.” Then put a gun in their hands, and nine times out of ten, they’ll accidentally laser themselves or someone else in the first ten minutes. Now, if you point it out to them at that time, they’ll be WAY safer going forward, because they just had a lesson in how a fraction of a second of inattention created an unsafe situation. It takes conscious effort to be safe, and just telling someone the four rules doesn’t create that consciousness.

      Same thing for trigger discipline. Until you hardwire that muscle memory, the natural human tendency is to pick up a tool and immediately grip it in the most functional way. For guns, that means finger on the trigger, ready to fire. That’s what the trigger is there for, right? So until you’ve been called out on it a couple times, you are very likely to not even realize your finger’s on the trigger inappropriately.

      So it probably wouldn’t hurt to explain these rules in a classroom setting (absent overt politicization by the teacher, which I’m not convinced is possible in the current school system), but I doubt it would help much unless it’s reinforced with actual gun-handling practice (even just with blue guns or toys).

  14. Teaching the four rules is a good idea if introduced at an appropriate age, but it is still just an abstract idea with having a firearm actually available as a teaching tool. I’m not sure our current propaganda indoctrination centers are up to the task.

    My sportsman’s club runs a winter indoor rifle league for members and we allow kids around 7 or 8 to participate as long as their parents are with them and they are able to absorb and follow the rules. We go over the 4 rules with them and they have the opportunity to put it in practice. Unfortunately, being a club event, it’s pretty much preaching to the choir.

  15. They teach kids how to cross the road safely, (granted, more kids are hurt or killed by traffic than by unattended firearms) to not accept candy from strangers, and what to do if the fire alarm goes off. How is this any different?

    Stop
    Don’t touch it
    Leave the area
    Get an adult

    Could not be easier.

    • Yes, I agree with this. As long as it’s restricted to this, and for younger children only. But will schools accept that limit?

      • Unless you’re actually going to be intentionally handling guns (And that’s what parents and instructors are for) the Eddie Eagle rules are all anyone needs and are applicable right through adulthood. Want to learn more? There’s plenty at the gun club or range that are willing to help you with that.

  16. I was going to answer a resounding YES and disagree vehemently with those who equate firearms safety with sex ed. But upon reflection, maybe my initial reaction was wrong.

    I have opted my kids out of all “family life” classes because we (my wife and I) want to be sure our values and morals come through in my kids’ sex education. The school system can claim to be neutral all they want. I know they are teaching ideas that do not comport with our faith. Our son knows he’s gotten an earlier and way more comprehensive education on the mechanics and consequences of sex and family than his classmates.

    So my first thought — to teach gun safety as a mechanical skill — bumps up against my knowledge that everything the school system and the Ed Department touches is a potential propaganda vector — John Dewey preached as much. Public school teachings on such benign topics as healthy eating and earth stewardship often cross over into proselytizing.

    Plus, any time the schools take responsibility for teaching personal care (healthy eating, responsible sex, safe gun handling), parents inevitably surrender their responsibility. I have been in school board meetings where parents have berated educators for not properly disciplining their children. Physician, heal thyself!

    So while we want to fight the progressives on their own battlefield, we need to be the ones to teach gun safety. And keep the topic out of their grubby hands.

  17. I’m conflicted on the 4 rules – that’s like asking if students need to be educated about oral and anal sex. It’s supplemental information that doesn’t seem to be fundamentally necessary, but some might be interested in teaching more about.

    The Eddie Eagle program, on the other hand, is fundamental and should be taught. I would make one change – sex ed is usually taught around puberty, Eddie should begin earlier.

      • Won’t disagree there. I’d even consider marketing it to the Pre-K kids.

        As always, I’m baffled that “guns are dangerous, don’t touch them” is something both sides wants kids to hear, yet there isn’t even agreement on that. I suppose the sticking point is Eddie is an NRA mark, but even without the cartoon the base concepts can be taught. My kids don’t know Eddie from a hole in the ground, but they know how to respond when they see an unattended/kid with a gun and the four rules for when they are shooting.

  18. I’m not getting into religion here, just borrowing an idea from religious organizations. I’m aware of a lot of churches who have “Public School Religion” classes, formerly known as “Sunday School.” The idea is that kids would take regular, extracurricular classes to learn things they would not learn in public school. And let’s face it: Homeschooling is great, but it is just not an option for a lot of people.

    So, why not have regular, extracurricular classes, say a couple of hours every week, that parents can send their kids to on “Practical Life Skills.” It could include gun safety, perhaps even gun handling, also basic SA and H2H, a person’s legal rights, how to change a flat tire, how to balance a checkbook, basic survival skills, first aid, etc. You’d bring in an outside expert for each session. Imagine what a kid could learn in year!

    I think we really let kids down by not having something in between homeschooling and just dropping them off at a regular school everyday. Heck, a lot of that parents would benefit from classes like that too.

  19. Stop, dont touch, run away, STFU.
    Unless you wanna be a scapegoat when they cant find the perp.
    That’s what i told my kids if they find anything “wrong”.

  20. I don’t think schools should be forced to teach this. It won’t do any good unless the parents are involved anyway. So there’s that. Which is what I believe about some of the more onerous school teaching programs.

    I have been trying to drill this message into my 3 year old. Almost 4. Need to drill the 6 year old some, too. I’ve seen studies that show this stuff is useless, but I have to wonder what the methodology was. Mostly when bad stuff happens with guns and kids it’s really tiny kids or kids whose parents obviously taught them nothing about guns.

    I DO heartily believe that everyone should learn gun safety. There’s lots of universal skills we should be learning. Math, ie balancing a checkbook. Cooking. How to be safe around a weapon of any kind really. Basic First aid. How to use a fire extinguisher. Most people won’t NEED a lot of this. I don’t expect to stumble across a gun… well ever. But I think it’s important to know how not to shoot myself or others just in case.

    • Something that may be worth thinking about? What are the core competencies. Like what is the main rule of the standard 4 rules of gun safty (which Mr Farago has an answer to I believe)?

      When I was trying to work on this with my 3 year old I really tried to emphasize stop, and run away. It’s kind of selfish, but I’d much rather have my kid alive if someone else is doing something stupid, so I tried to push his fleeing the most. I think if you can get stop and run away down, the other two follow naturally.

  21. I was once the principal of a private school. One day on a field trip, one of our students found a .38 revolver in the book bag he’d brought on the trip (his brother had used his bag to carry the pistol to a gun range and had forgotten to remove it). As soon as he found the gun, he immediately warned the other kids to leave school bus and called for his teacher who took possession of the gun. What could have been a serious problem was adroitly handled by a 14 year old who’d grown up around guns, knew how to shoot, and was quite well schooled in gun safety. In the obligatory “disciplinary” meeting with him and his parents, I complemented them for caring enough to teach their kids about guns and gun safety and then I praised our student for keeping his head and doing the right thing.

  22. Yes, teach the Eddie Eagle stuff. The 4 rules need to drilled into anyone who might be interested in firearms. It’s all about safety. Heck, on several occasions in grade school, we were taught about the dangers of blasting caps. We were told to leave them alone and go tell an adult. Just like Eddie Eagle.

  23. Yes, I do think schools should treat firearm safety in the same way that they treat other health and safety topics (fire hazards, strangers, nutrition, sex ed, etc) — start very simple when they are young and revisit with more detail when they are older. If anyone tries to get political with it, I am sure that will get noticed and fought over, like everything else in school curricula. The result would be a compromise but still better than avoiding the topic of gun safety entirely.

    • “…for as long as guns are available for private ownership or use.”

      Don’t sweat it. The criminals will be happy to provide them to anyone with money for the foreseeable future…

      🙂

  24. My oldest daughter knew Cooper’s 4 rules before seeing Eddie Eagle in “Safety Town” the summer before Kindergarten.

    My middle daughter and son learned, “Stop, don’t touch, leave the area, tell an adult.” From her at ages 3 and 1, and have been subsequently taught Cooper’s 4 rules.

    At 9, 7, and 4, they have retold me those 8 rules at least weekly. We practice with BB rifles and airsoft pistols monthly. My daughters shot their first .22 just last weekend.

    I have done everything I can to make my kids “gun smart,” but not all parents are so dedicated. Teach gun safety in school, please, it’s for the children!

  25. Meanwhile and in any case, shouldn’t schools go beyond Eddy to teach the four gun safety rules? Yes, Also students should shoot a .22 rifle.If we can find some ammo.

  26. Never had guns under the concrete porch, but I have had groundhogs under the tool shed. Groundhogs are usually armed and dangerous. Maybe Eddie the Eagle should talk about groundhogs?

  27. It always blows my mind when anti-gunners are revolted at the idea of teaching gun safety. Ignorance is NEVER a good thing. Why wouldn’t you want your kids to know these things? What if they are at a friends house and find a shotgun in the corner. Kids are curious.

    • Let me gunsplain it to you. Too many so called liberals and progressives and other do gooders actually believe that if you hide from evil, it cannot see you. Thus, if you refuse to have the word “gun” in your house, in your schools, in your car pool, you cannot be hurt by it. The more enlightened don’t actually believe that, but a slightly different strain, “Being intolerant of guns builds good karma for me, and nothing bad will happen if I refuse to endorse even the mention of evil things.” I think this really hurts the cause of gun safety, and we need to get beyond simplistic, child-like notions. On the other hand, the pro-gun side is completely devoid of irrational crazies; good for you (but they keep us energized to double-down on efforts to introduce some “common sense” into the world around us).

        • Yeah, you are right. You did not deny pro-gun crazies exist. My “zing” key got out of control when I wasn’t looking.

  28. I’m late to the comment party, but is it “run away” instead of “leave the area” now? That seems ill-advised. You shouldn’t teach children to be afraid of guns, just to respect them. I wonder what prompted the change.

  29. You can never keep secrets from kids. signing an “opt out” for your child will isolate them and allow the other kids to bully them because “they are different”. I remember girls in school whose parents would not allow phys ed shorts and they had to wear a long skirt – that went well for those 2, not.
    Parents may have thier reasons, but the child finds out anyway and that can create a rebellion that won’t be stopped until the child is in his/her 40s.
    Unless you live in a large community of like minded people with your own schools and the like – like The Amish do, you do your children no favors.
    We all have to live in the world, we are better served by trying to create a dialog with our children.
    I really hate TV teen novelas. Every show has a spotlight on a gay teen and his/her problems. I try to use this as a teaching moment, telling mine that although a few are “born that way”, most are going that way because of friends or low self esteem and it IS NOT NORMAL!

    If God made them that way, their is obviously a reason and reproduction is NOT one of them.

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