Sun. May 19th, 2024

Public school students in this state could soon be required to take gun safety courses

By Teny Sahakian Fox News

Safety courses ‘critical step in averting firearm-related accidents,’ says bill sponsor

The Tennessee state legislature passed a bill, which is now headed to the governor’s desk, requiring public schools to teach “age-appropriate and grade-appropriate” gun safety courses to students starting next year.

“We see this proposed legislation as a critical step in averting firearm related accidents while fostering greater awareness and responsibility among gun owners,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Todd, a Republican, said in a February hearing.

The Tennessee Senate passed HB 2882 in a 24-3 vote on Thursday after the bill made its way through the House in February. If signed by Gov. Bill Lee, the courses will begin in the 2025-2026 school year.

The Tennessee Senate passed HB 2882 in a 24-3 vote on Thursday after the bill made its way through the House in February. If signed by Gov. Bill Lee, the courses will begin in the 2025-2026 school year.

The Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville

The Tennessee state legislature passed a bill that would require public schools to teach “age-appropriate and grade-appropriate” gun safety courses to students. (Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The gun safety classes would be taught primarily through videos and online resources and would teach things like firearm storage, school safety, and how to avoid getting hurt if a student finds a gun and to immediately notify an adult if a gun is found. The bill stipulates the lessons will “not include the use or presence of live ammunition, live fire, or live firearms.”

“This curriculum would be developed to instruct children on how to properly stay away from a firearm if they happen to see a firearm, and what to do as far as reporting if they find a firearm,” Republican Sen. Paul Bailey said during Thursday’s session.

Bill Lee visits a Tennessee classroom

The Tennessee Senate passed HB 2882 in a 24-3 vote on Thursday after the bill made its way through the House in February. It now heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk. (Office of the Governor of Tennessee)

The bill requires that lessons be “viewpoint neutral on political topics, such as gun rights, gun violence, and the Second Amendment.”

Senate Republicans voted against an amendment that would have allowed parents to opt children out of the training.

Proponents of the legislation compared it to other mandatory safety training concepts like fire drills. But opponents say it does not adequately address the root cause of school shootings.

empty classroom

Gun safety classes would be taught primarily through videos and online resources and would teach things like firearm storage, school safety, and how to avoid getting hurt if a student finds a gun and to immediately notify an adult if a gun is found. (Jeffry W. Myers/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Children are already bearing an incredible brunt of the escalation that we’ve seen in gun violence – that is widely reported in our own state government’s data. Data demonstrates that children are increasingly likely to become victims of firearms in homicides, suicides, gun violence, accidental deaths,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro, a Democrat, said on Thursday. “But rather than deal with the fact that there are firearms that are negligently and recklessly left somewhere by adults, we’re trying to teach children how to deal with that negligence.”

If passed, the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will determine the curriculum parameters, including ages and grade levels, for the lessons.

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