Should Effective And Safe Firearms Handling Be Taught In Schools? | regular guy guns

A few days ago, occasional liker-of-my-posts-on-X and big-time 2A type Mrgunsngear posted a rather astounding video on X depicting a supposed new recruit to the US Army running a rifle for the first time. Now, for the benefit of the doubt, I will say that it’s a little hard to tell whether this is legit footage from a training exercise, or if it’s just someone cosplaying, thinking they know what they are doing, or trolling for likes and engagement. Not to deviate from the subject but I tried to see if the rifle in question had the third pin, etc. Compression sucks. Anyways, as you can see, the subject of the video is exhibiting remarkably poor marksmanship skills and firearms handling. They learned that from somewhere, or thought that was a good idea somehow…

It used to be that your average draftee or new recruit had a passing familiarity with guns. Apparently that isn’t the case these days. Cultural rot, shifting “priorities” as a nation and overall laziness have led to the fundamentals of marksmanship and effective gun handling not being taught by the family or by the schools. Even independent methods of instruction, like the formerly-known-as Boy Scouts Of America, or NRA educational outreach initiatives aren’t utilized as much as they used to be. Some of these kids get firearms “education” from movies and video games, which isn’t suitable at all. But even the game and movie characters properly shoulder an M4 or AR-pattern rifle!

Anyways, with the poor firearms educational status of the few recruits enlisting these days, along with other documented incidents of ineffective and irresponsible gun handling, it may be time to promote and revisit the idea of teaching the fundamentals via other methods.

Should kids learn about guns in school?

The Impetus To Teach Firearms Education In Schools

The idea of compulsory public-funded schooling for kids 5 to 18 is a relatively new one. To keep it simple and focused (this is a firearms blog not a general political one, haha!) the whole idea of compulsory public-funded education was to give kids a basic foundational knowledge for when they were turned out into the world. The 3 Rs, how the government works, some basic life skills, that sort of thing. Along the way that included basic marksmanship and high schools even had sponsored competitive shooting teams.

Sure, as time went on and the so-called priorities changed, the whole idea of teaching responsible and effective firearms handling in the schools fell by the wayside. This was concurrent with the shifting patterns of of then nation, as more people chose to erroneously leave their lives in the hands of the State rather than take personal responsibility for it. Of course, those that chose to be armed carried on the traditions and did instruct their kin in these skills, but at most this held things at a steady state.

The problem with this of course manifested itself as time went on. With a growth in absentee parents and single-parent homes has lead to a grouping of people who lack basic American skills such as effective and responsible firearms ownership. You see the above, where the lady in question is doing an extraordinarily weird thing in shouldering a rifle. You also see kids picking up unattended guns, not realizing the dangerous potential of firearms if they are handled incorrectly.

To remedy this, education, not demonization is key. Love firearms or hate them, there’s around 500 million of them in this nation in various citizen hands. I guarantee you’ll encounter one in the wild that isn’t in government hands if you don’t already own one. At the least, you should know how to safely handle a firearm.

It could save your life, it could save the life of another. Imagine finding an unattended firearm and just knowing how to render it safe before figuring out who it belongs to or summoning help. You just made the situation a heck of a lot easier to handle. Imagine being at someone’s home, who happens to own a few guns, and being able to help in an emergency. Maybe you don’t own a gun, but at least you can pick one up and be of use in the situation. It’s akin to learning how to drive a car. You may live in a city where a car isn’t needed, but you should know how to drive. For example, I didn’t have a personal vehicle for a dozen years. But I knew how to drive – stick no less. Came in handy quite a few times.

Also, from a military perspective, it would benefit our armed forces enormously if the people coming in once again had a “GUNS 101” education under their belts, and overworked instructors didn’t have to spend a week teaching people which part of the gun the bullet comes out of. Also if we’re to live under the soft tyranny of the Selective Service System, wouldn’t it be beneficial for the government to know that potential inductees probably had a basic level of competence with a modern firearm?

Anyways, guns are a fact of life in the US, you may as well get to know them and how to use them. It’s not political, it’s really just the right thing to do.

OK, we’ve established the why of instructing kids in public schools (and private, why not?) about safe and effective firearms usage, but what about the how? How should this be implemented?

A Proposed Curriculum For Firearms Education In Public Schools

Guns are an immutable part of the cultural and historical DNA of this nation. We didn’t negotiate with the British to gain independence, we shot them, because they wouldn’t listen to reason and decided to be unjustifiably violent.

But, I do recognize that some types of parents choose to live in a delusional state, and probably don’t want their kids to be exposed to the reality of the world, even as teenagers. And you know what? That’s fine by me. They’ll learn the hard way. But, since I do believe in parental rights as it were, I will include a provision for a parent to exempt their child from a “Safe And Effective Firearms Use” class. It’s like sex ed, you can sign a waiver and your kid doesn’t have to be there that day and watch one of those godawful educational videos.

As an aside, if your child is genuinely physically disabled, they can be opted out as well. Or if they are really interested but sadly disabled, they can observe and go along for the ride. Perhaps some adaptive shooting techniques and gear can be made available?

Also, along those lines, with details to be worked out later, school staff can screen potential problem children from the class. If someone appears to be mentally unsound, they can be exempt.

With that out of the way, what would the specifics of a Safe And Effective Firearms Use course be?

Well, let’s start with the basics, of course.

Note, this is a basic sketch, I’m open to suggestions from the community.

The course itself would be across multiple sessions, starting with a focused session about the Four Rules, along with other safety concerns.

First Session – The Four Rules And General Safe Handling

Any frank and informative course about firearms needs to start with an introduction or review of the Four Rules. You know the rules and so do I. Of course, this would take place at the school before even going close to a range.

  • Treat all guns as if they are always loaded
  • Never let the muzzle cover anything that you are not willing to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.
  • Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.

The rules are simple, but kids being kids want to know why. The instructor should explain to them the reasoning behind the rules. For example, with Rule 1, it’s not easy to discern at first glance whether a modern pistol is loaded, unless it’s locked back, and even then there could be a loaded magazine in the well. The slide could be racked forward and the gun made ready, even unintentionally if the gun is being handled. Or with Rule 4 it could be explained how a projectile can whiz right through a target and hit something beyond it.

It may be more impactful to have some visual aids and “horror stories” in this case. Police reports, videos, that sort of thing. Just like the tapes some of us watched in Driver’s Ed back in the day. Blood on the road!

Some focus should also be on safe storage and balancing accessibility with the concept, i.e. a biometric safe for emergencies and other guns kept in a real safe.

Additionally, in the same session, it’d be practical for the students to learn range etiquette. Ear protection, eye protection, obey the rangemaster, switch people not guns, that sort of thing.

ARs come in all sizes.

Second Session – The Basics Of Modern Firearm Operation

After the foundations of safety are laid out, it’s probably best to introduce the students to the basics of how modern firearms work. However, we are going to assume the worst and suspect that most of the kids have never handled a real firearm in their entire lives. If they have, then it’s a good refresher for them. Repeat the Four Rules before anything.

The easiest way to get them comfortable with the mere act of holding a firearm is to use blue guns. Sometimes they aren’t blue, but basically a blue gun is a plastic dummy of a real firearm. The dummies have plenty of applications, like for when holster makers check the fit of their products for a specific gun, or for when a hand-to-hand instructor is teaching disarmament techniques, that sort of thing. Additionally, they are great to get new people up to speed on proper grip, trigger discipline, and the like. Which is what we’ll use them for here. They make blue guns for pistols, modern rifles and shotguns. They aren’t terribly expensive either.

After some basic instruction on grip and technique, the class then can be introduced to the real thing. As an aside, if there’s time or legal complications for the instructor to bring real firearms onto campus, this can be spun off into it’s own session.

Regardless, the instructor should bring one common modern example of each major type of firearm. Pistol, rifle, shotgun. Bring a GLOCK 19, an basic AR-15 from a major manufacturer, and a Mossberg 500 shotgun. For this part, it’s a must to leave the ammo in a separate place from the classroom.

Along the lines of ammo, a quick primer (haha) on different ammo types should be done. The instructor can use dummy rounds or visual aids, since we’re keeping live ammo out of the room.

In the place of real ammunition, each firearm should have an allotment of snap caps or dummy rounds. You’ll want the instructor to go over the basic operating concepts of each firearm type, i.e. how the action works (tie in some physics!) and how to safely load and make ready.

To reinforce good habits, have the students all don proper eye protection and ear protection when they take their turn to handle the firearm, even though there’s a slim to zero chance of a live discharge.

Give them instructions on how to grip and (if applicable) shoulder the weapon. Let them know they don’t want to become a meme and get mocked mercilessly on X. Explain how to load and make ready, aim, press the trigger (on an empty weapon of course!) and so forth.

In addition to the basics of operating the firearm, the instructor should mention that firearms can and will experience failures in their operating lifetime. It’s important for the kids to know how it happens, how to prevent it, and how to fix it. Failures to eject, failures to feed, and especially squib round conditions should be covered.

The students should also know how to take down and clean all three firearm types. Let them know that a clean gun is a happy gun.

Give them a quick once-over on accessories like slings, optics, magazines, and even cool stuff like suppressors.

The idea here is to get them comfortable with the weight, action and feel of guns. Most people who have never handled a gun don’t realize there is a certain mass to most firearms. Each student should be able to demonstrate safe handling to the instructor’s satisfaction.

When the instructor stows the guns for the day, they should take the opportunity to demonstrate safely clearing and unloading them, as well as a little recap on safe storage techniques.

Third Session – The Meaning Of The Second Amendment (Originalist) And The Laws

In addition to the practical ins and outs of firearm safety and operation, it’s pretty important to also explain the cultural and philosophical context of being an armed citizen in the United States.

Try not to mention politicians, political parties, or anything of that nature. About as political as it should get is explaining how the Second Amendment guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms for defense agains all enemies, foreign and domestic. To keep it interesting and somewhat brief, this session shouldn’t delve too much into how carry permits are unconstitutional and so forth. Lay in a little backstory on how since the nation wasn’t really intended to have a standing army, the idea was also that citizens could be called to defend the nation, and be responsible for bringing their own firearms and ammo. Mention that the militia is the people, referencing George Mason’s quote.

Reinforce that “well-regulated” means that the gun owner should be well-trained in the use of their firearms.

Now, we all know that gun control laws suck, but it is wise to know them to stay on the good side of law enforcement. Go over federal gun control laws like age limits, the idea of a “prohibited person”, 4473s, how background checks work, what happens when you buy a gun at retail in the state, and the like. Explain the NFA, as well. Keep it short and simple, like mention what is covered by the Act and what the requirements are.

Definitely cover state laws. The students will need to know whether a carry permit is required, and how to get one. If the state is Constitutional Carry, explain the limits of that, especially the Gun Free School Zones Act. They’ll need to know if there’s any restrictions on private sales. Definitely educate them on anything regarding homemade firearms. Kids do have 3D printers, after all.

At the end of all this, it’s probably best to administer a multiple-choice written test. 50 questions covering all the previous material should do it. Pass means they get to go to the range for the next session. Fail means they don’t, but they can take it again if they wish.

This session is also a good “tripwire” to see if any problem students that missed the first “filter” by school staff crop up. For example, if the instructor sees a student is generally a problem, they can be screened out of the range session, no matter how much they seem to know about guns. Or if the kid in the back who says nothing normally gets really strange when the real firearms come out.

Anyways, for those that pass, it’s on to the fun part – the range.

Fourth Session – Off To The Range

Now it’s time for the fun and excitement – the range!

This will require some legwork. You’ll have to find a range that’s willing to accommodate 15-20 high school kids on a regular basis. In terms of capacity, it shouldn’t be too difficult since these sessions would be conducted during the week when most people are at work. Most ranges are usually lightly-attended during those times. Any range worth their salt in terms of our scene should have no problem accommodating the class. If anything, it’d be a great marketing opportunity for them.

The little details like the cost of ammo and the like should be ironed out beforehand as well.

At it’s core, it’s a field trip, so the kids will have to get permission slips and the like. Also it’s worth mentioning that any interested parents are more than welcome to go along as well.

The same three firearms (pistol, AR-15, and shotgun) should be taken along for the trip. If possible, the instructor should see about getting a suppressor for either the rifle or pistol, or both. Shooting with a can makes it so much easier for first timers. They can concentrate on the fundamentals rather than worrying about a flinch.

Once at the range, the instructor should make sure everyone is squared away with ear protection, eye protection and maybe gloves. The range safety officer should introduce himself, and the instructor should explain that the RSO’s word overrides all. Remind them about the range’s rules and etiquette.

For organizational and safety reasons, only one lane is needed for this part of the session, since the instructor will be guiding each student individually as they work their way through each firearm. Checking to see if they are clear, loading and making ready, proper stance, grip, aim, and press the trigger. How much each student gets to put downrange depends on ammo allotment and time, of course. The instructor should make sure that other students aren’t crowding the lane trying to get photos and video, etc. They’re more than welcome to do so (pending school and range rules), but at a distance. Most smartphones have a little telephoto lens these days, even.

The goal should be to get them to land rounds somewhere on a B-27 (blue man) target. This isn’t a carry permit or law enforcement qualification, it’s literally GUNS 101 for kids.

The instructor should also recognize that students come in all shapes and sizes, and especially when it comes to a rifle or shotgun, accommodations for strength and size should be made. For the AR, a bipod can be handy. For the shotgun, a rest can be used. The instructor should be encouraged to “brace” the student if needed. Along those lines, if disabled students are in attendance, the range should be notified ahead of time so they can make adaptive shooting gear available. Because the Second Amendment is for everyone.

After everyone has their turn, have students volunteer to help clean up and safely stow the firearms. A nice touch would be to let everyone keep their paper targets from the day. Maybe a certificate of completion would be nice, too.

Protip: if the range has automatic weapons for rent, see if the RSO is willing to grab one and do some mag dumps after everyone is finished. Because it’s fun and will really get the students excited.

Also, it should be encouraged to have a brief Q&A session outside of the shooting bay. The instructor should let the students “lead” this part and talk about their experiences, and so on. Make this part kind of an informal jam session, if you will.

Of course, since it’s a class, a grade value is probably going to be expected. If the student gets to the shooting portion and reasonably puts rounds in the blue silhouette, they pass. Again, this isn’t a carry permit or law enforcement qualification.

At the end of all this, the student should have a basic knowledge of guns, the Second Amendment, and armed self-defense.

The Challenges Of Teaching Kids About Guns In A School Setting

Teaching students about real firearm handling and safety is actually the easy part. You’ll build a syllabus, run through it a few times on your own, and get to teaching.

The biggest challenge will be the political landscape. In the usual states, i.e. New York, expect to hear “no”, and “no” repeatedly from the people that have to authorize this sort of thing. You might get a conciliatory nod from one of the old timers in the system, but expect an epic battle. In an urban district like New York City, you’ll probably have to involve lawyers. It wouldn’t surprise me that such an idea would require a lawsuit in NYC.

Along those lines, in “enemy territory”, don’t be surprised if some concerned parent calls the cops because you dared to even suggest this. Probably should have that lawyer on standby.

Even in 2A-friendly states, expect some red-shirted harridan to make a stink about the whole idea and summon the media. Have your ducks in a row for this, by the way. Prepare answers to likely questions from the media and detractors, and emphasize that the parents have the ultimate say in the participation of their kids.

On a more mundane level, implementing such a course would cost money. An idea would be to get tacit authorization from the school to do the class, then approach firearms and ammo companies to perhaps donate equipment and ammunition for the course. “Anytown USA High School Gun Class – Powered by Winchester!” Cheesy? Yep. But the taxpayers aren’t going to be on the hook for thousands of dollars of ammo every semester.

Also offer to let parents get directly involved. If some of them are veterans, law enforcement, or competent armed citizens, encourage their involvement. Some school systems have “volunteer hour” requirements for parents, and this would be a fun way to satisfy them.

The final beast of course would be inherently political, even in friendly jurisdictions. Expect any local anti-2A politician to grandstand about this.

The Work Of Educating Kids On Guns Is Worth It

If you are an American citizen, or resident who adheres to our founding ideals and is working on the citizenship bit, you should hopefully understand that the right to keep and bear arms is baked into our nation’s DNA. A revolt partially against gun control literally was one of the primary motivations for us to become a nation. Negotiations with the British failed, so we shot them. And here we are.

Specific numbers are hard to come by, for a very good reason, but the simple fact is there’s 500 million firearms in this nation, of all vintages and configurations. From surplus Garands, to suppressed ARs, all the way up to citizen-owned crew-served weapons, we’re a nation that’s armed to the point where the more realistic members of the government will admit that the blood cost of gun control is too great to even realistically consider it.

And good, it’s our job to keep them scared.

That being said, in a nation where firearms are common, it’s probably in your best interest to be familiar with their use cases and operation. Even despite the cultural mistakes of the past 60 or so years, guns remain a part of our nation’s way of life, and ownership percentage-wise is even increasing.

Normally, it’s the duty of a parent to educate their children on the ways of the world and life in general. If you’re reading this, I’ll presume you are either armed or have some interest in the topic. So yes, it’s your place to educate your children on effective firearms ownership. Real safety, the fundamentals, the practical use of guns, and the deeper meaning of being armed.

That being said, the idea and reality of taxpayer-supported schooling isn’t going away anytime soon. Ostensibly those schools are supposed to provide a base level of education so the kids don’t go out into the world woefully unprepared.

If in fact that is the case, it would be completely consistent with that mission of preparedness to educate students in the fundamentals of firearms. You’re not only educating students in a cornerstone of American society, you’re also teaching them self-reliance, independence, and the importance of life and individual rights.

Plus, if you’re in the business of military training, your budget sheet will look a lot nicer because your recruits will actually know one end of the gun from the other.

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