In the NRA Basic Pistol course, you learn that the two leading causes of firearms accidents are ignorance and carelessness. It should be obvious that firearms safety training can help overcome both of those deficiencies.
With that in mind, some states, like Arizona, have made available to students a gun safety program as an optional class. While that is a great idea, it should be taken to the next level and be made mandatory.
A study lead by Jason Cash, B.S. of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah was conducted in 1999 to look at 6 year crime statistics for the state of Utah following the 1995 passage of legislation making it easier for its citizens to obtain permits to carry concealed firearms. One of the results showed that "unintentional firearm injury rates decreased despite a 17-fold increase in permit holders..." This can be directly attributed to the safety training required by law before obtaining a ccw permit.
Much has been made of the fact that in the not too distant past, guns were much more readily available than they are today. Most hardware stores sold them, nearly every home had at least one, and they were even available via mail order. Yet, gun crimes and accident rates were very low. One primary reason for that was that kids were taught proper respect for firearms, as well as gun safety rules, from a very young age.
In Ohio, we require twelve hours of training before you can get a concealed handgun license. Reasons for this requirement include ensuring knowledge of gun laws as well as providing for, as codified,
All of those requirements have safety in mind, which goes along with the idea that ignorance of gun safety matters are one of the leading causes of accidents.
Therefore, since studies like the Utah one show that safety training decreases accidents, it should be a mandatory part of school curriculum. The Arizona statute outlines an excellent curriculum.
1. Instruction on the rules of gun safety
2. Instruction on the basic operation of firearms
3. Instruction on the history of firearms and marksmanship
4. Instruction on the role of firearms in preserving peace and freedom
5. Instruction on the constitutional roots of the right to keep and bear arms
6. Instruction on the use of clay targets
7. Practice time at a shooting range
8. Demonstration of competence with a firearm
The only caveat is that this safety training must not be presented in a poor light and subject to anti-gun paranoia and propaganda. It should stick to the facts and be taught by qualified instructors.
The opposition, like the National Academy of Sciences, often make claims like, "for children, firearm violence education programs may result in increases in the very behaviors they are designed to prevent, by enhancing the allure of guns for young children and by establishing a false norm of gun-carrying for adolescents."
Actually, there is nothing abnormal about choosing to carry a firearm for personal defense. Statistics show that more than half the homes in this country have firearms in them, and demystifying guns leads to familiarity that reduces the allure. Guns become "no big deal" instead of a taboo items to be experimented with in secret, and kids who find guns have the proper respect for them reducing the risk of "horsing around" with them.
Of course, the above quote came from the same study that gave us these factoids: "Research has found, for example, that higher rates of household firearms ownership are associated with higher rates of gun suicide" (in other words, people without guns choose other methods of committing suicide), and "that illegal diversions from legitimate commerce are important sources of crime guns and guns used in suicide" (criminals & some suicide victims usually obtain their guns illegally). At least they admit "that firearms are used defensively many times per day."
The NRA's Eddie Eagle program accomplishes this task with young children by teaching them to "STOP! - Don't Touch! - Leave the Area! - Tell an Adult!". Firearms education should begin at a young age and continue through early teens. If it saves the life of just one child, whether by preventing an accident or igniting a lifelong interest in firearms that one day leads to successful self-defense against a criminal attack, it is worth it.