Editor’s Note: A quote was corrected to bring accurate context to one of Shannon Little’s quote.
Topeka (KSNT) – One of the bills Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed this legislative session would have required the state board of education to standardize firearms safety training in Kansas schools. This bill has drawn attention at the Statehouse from opponents and supporters.
Moriah Day with the Kansas State Rifle Association and Shannon Little with Moms Demand Action shared their opinions on gun laws and gun violence with Inside Kansas Politics host Rebekah Chung.
Day said the “Eddie The Eagle Firearm Safety Bill” is designed to encourage gun safety in Kansas.
“With more than about 50% of Kansas households having a firearm in the household, it’s more than likely that a child would come into contact with a firearm at some point in time,” Day said. “That being the case, it’s incredibly important the child knows what to do in that situation.”
Day also said the Kansas State Rifle Association backed the bill in an effort to increase safety among kids.
“The Kansas educational system understands that kids are smart enough to learn simple phrases — simple lessons to keep themselves safe,” Day said. “In Kansas schools, we already teach fire safety. We teach tornado safety. We teach internet safety. We already put the onus on kids to be responsible in those situations, not because they should be the first line of defense but because there is always a situation that comes up where other things fall through.”
Day went on to say 32 million children have already gone through the Eddie The Eagle program, which he calls the gold standard for gun safety. However, the program has received pushback from the American Academy of Pediatrics which has deemed it ineffective. According to a 2004 study, the organization found children were very good at repeating the messaging of the program, but did not follow through in real-life scenarios.
Little agrees with some who say HB 2304 is legislative overreach. She said it should be something that is decided at the local level.
“The NRA’s brand of training [has] been proven to not make Kansans or children any safer from gun violence. The responsibility to protect children from gun violence should be placed on adults not taught to children,” Little said.
HB 2304 makes no mention of having firearms in classrooms. However, Little said some people have concerns over lack of clarification in the legislation. She said there’s no rule that prohibits firearms from being used in that training.
Little said in place of HB 2304, there should be secure storage laws to require gun owners to safely store their firearm and creating criminal penalties for those that fail to do so.
“We just want the responsibility to be on adults not on children,” Little said. “We could talk about secure storage and that would help the situation. You don’t have a situation where a child has to make the decision as to whether or not they’re going to run away, stop, don’t touch [or] tell a grown-up if the firearm is secured.”