Last night, lawmakers in Arizona advanced a bill to require kids in public schools go through the National Rifle Association’s “Eddie Eagle” program, which was deemed ineffective by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The program focuses the responsibility of gun safety on children rather than their parents and guardians. According to a recent Daily Beast article on Eddie Eagle, the program also has declined significantly reporting that “participation dropped 96 percent in 24 months, as the NRA cut funding on ‘safety, training & education’ by $14 million, or more than a third.”
If lawmakers are looking to support gun safety education, programs such as Be SMART – which teach parents and adults the importance of securely storing firearms away from children – are available for parents and families.
During the hearing, an amendment was proposed to let parents decide if their kids would participate in the ineffective program. In response, Rep. John Kavanagh said “I can’t think of any parent in their right mind that wouldn’t want this. I would forward the name and address of the parent to child protective services if they opted out of this.”
Instead of threatening parents with child protective services for opting out of a program that doesn’t prevent gun violence and places the onus of gun safety on children, lawmakers in the state should protect Arizonans by rejecting dangerous legislation that would weaken the state’s gun laws and support gun safety bills that would reduce gun deaths and save lives, starting with legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Polling shows that Arizonans support stronger gun laws — including a bill to disarm domestic abusers — by an overwhelming 8:1 margin. Arizona has some of the weakest gun laws in the country, scoring only 8.5 out of 100 for gun law strength while maintaining a gun violence rate well above the national average. Despite this, state lawmakers continue to further weaken the state’s firearm laws each session.
More from the Daily Beast piece on the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program:
“But the Eddie Eagle program—which was deemed largely ineffective in real-world situations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others—has in recent years failed to attain anywhere near that sort of reach.
For more than three decades, schools across the United States—including the one Rinehart attended as a child as well as the one Eli [a gun violence survivor who shot and wounded himself with an unsecured firearm when he was four years old] later attended—have used the National Rifle Association’s “Eddie Eagle” program to teach young kids about gun safety. Launched in 1988, the initiative is aimed at pre-K through fourth graders and features an animated eagle and his anthropomorphic “wing team,” that instruct children who encounter a gun to: “STOP! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grown-up.”
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand, thinks Eddie Eagle is little more than a thinly veiled ad campaign intended to create future firearms buyers.“For a really long time, the NRA has pretended that Eddie Eagle is a responsible way to teach kids about gun safety,” Watts said. “But it’s actually more like a marketing or a propaganda tool, similar to Joe Camel in marketing cigarettes to kids. And thankfully, Eddie Eagle is going by the wayside, much like Joe Camel did.”
See the whole piece here. To talk with gun violence survivors and volunteers with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.