Missouri schools will be encouraged to teach first-graders a gun safety course sponsored by the National Rifle Association as a result of legislation signed Friday by Gov. Jay Nixon.
The new law stops short of requiring schools to teach the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program. But by putting it in state law, Missouri is providing one of the stronger state-sanctioned endorsements of the NRA-sponsored firearms safety course, which the group says is taught to about 1 million children annually. The legislation also requires school personnel to participate in an “active shooter and intruder” drill led by law enforcement officers.
Both the staff and student training initially were proposed as mandates when the legislation was filed on Dec. 13, which was the day before a gunman massacred 26 people in a Connecticut elementary school, including 20 first-graders. The provision about the first-grade gun-safety course was amended to make it optional during Senate debate.
The legislation also transfers the responsibility for issuing identification cards for concealed gun permits from driver’s license clerks to local sheriffs. That change was prompted by concerns that the state licensing agency’s procedures had infringed on people’s privacy rights. Nixon noted the change in concealed carry permits — not the school gun-safety programs — while announcing he was signing the legislation. Asked if he supported the NRA’s gun safety course for first-graders, Nixon merely noted that it was optional.
“Allowing the local school districts to make those choices is appropriate,” he said. The legislation was one of several pro-gun measures passed this year by Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature.
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