Eddie Eagle program found ineffective
We have been riveted by the horrific Florida high school massacre in which 17 people - mostly students - were gunned down, and Americans are demanding action from Congress.
But Kansans must also focus on state legislation threatening our young.
An irresponsible measure already approved by the Kansas House is billed as a gun rights proposal that allegedly would enhance public safety.
In reality, this is another act of reckless endangerment brought to us by the gun lobby. Meanwhile, sensible bills that would ban bump stocks and remove guns from people legally deemed extreme risks sadly languish.
House Bill 2042 would lower the age for carrying a concealed lethal weapon from 21 to 18.
This is especially alarming with campus gun carrying now allowed. Experience and research tells us it is highly unlikely a young armed civilian ever would halt a rampage shooter or other violent crime, but evidence is overwhelming that gun hazards would become highly probable among young gunners.
Suicide is the most alarming of the threats. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Kansans ages 15-24. Youth suicides are up nationally, and in Kansas.
Suicide experts know easy access to guns increases risk, and this bill greatly increases access. Student surveys find that up to 10 percent of college students consider or commit suicide, and there are up to 1,000 campus suicides annually.
Other threats are:
*Medical science tells us younger people pose risks when armed because areas of the brain supporting self-control, impulse control and judgment aren’t fully developed. High alcohol consumption also increases risk.
*Disputes and fights have turned into gunplay at some colleges.
*Campus gun accidents are happening. One happened last year at Kansas State even before campus carry took effect.
*Gun thefts are rising nationally, and stolen guns tend to remain in criminal hands.
*As any parent knows, kids lose stuff. A gun left abandoned last year in a KU restroom illustrates the danger.
*This bill has one somewhat positive aspect – required safety training for everyone wanting to carry on campus. Two years ago the Legislature repealed mandatory concealed carry permitting and training for everyone at the behest of the National Rifle Association, and now it won’t endorse this bill until the training requirement is removed.
Interesting. The Kansas Rifle Association introduced a bill this year to establish firearms safety training in public schools for grades K-12. The curriculum for grades K-8 would be the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program, which instructs kids to alert an adult if they find an unattended gun.
OK, that’s a good goal. Problem is, well-documented studies, as well as the federal General Accounting Office, have determined the Eddie Eagle program simply is not effective.
So, the NRA opposes required safety instruction that is helpful for adults who carry concealed, and it opposes required mandatory safe storage of firearms in households with kids. But it champions ineffective training for small children. Adults, not kids, need to be the responsible parties for gun safety.
We must abandon the disastrously failed experiment of fighting firearms with firearms and doing little else other than blame mental illness. Arming college kids, and offering ineffective instruction for younger kids is the same old nonsense that is not working.
Kansans must make clear to legislators with calls, letters and ballots that it’s way past time to give reason and common sense a chance.
President of the Kansas Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence