A sad commentary on our times is the State Senates recent passage of
a new gun safety program targeting young children in our public
No pun intended.
On July 1, the Michigan Senate voted 34-4 to establish something
similar to the National Rifle Associations (NRA) Eddie Eagle Program
which teaches kids in kindergarten through the third grade what to do
if they see a gun.
The motive behind the legislation is admirable: State Senator John
Gleason (D-Flushing) simply wants to warn kids about the danger of
guns and how to protect themselves if, say, a playmate pulls out his
dads 9mm Glock for show-and-tell. It happens.
Gleason introduced the legislation in response to the 2000 shooting
death of Kayla Renee Rolland, a 6-year-old who was murdered by her
6-year-old schoolmate Dedrick Owens as her horrified teacher and 22
classmates looked on. Dedrick had found his uncles .32 caliber
handgun and brought it to Buell Elementary School in Mount Morris
Township. Following the shooting, the boy dropped the gun in a a
wastebasket and hid in a restroom until being found by a teacher.
Its believed that Kayla is the youngest school shooting victim in
U.S. history, while Dedrick became the youngest shooter. Dedrick never
faced charges, being too young to comprehend what he was doing.
Why Sen. Gleason would wait 10 years to introduce such a piece of
legislation, one can only imagine. Perhaps it has something to do
with politics. At any rate, the Michigan House of Representatives
will vote on the bill, which will go into effect during
the 2011-12 school year. It will undoubtably pass.
If the states new gun safety program is anything like Eddie Eagle, it
will use coloring books and an informational CD to warn kids about the
dangers of guns and how to avoid them. The NRAs Eddie Eagle program
has instructed 21 million children in the dangers of guns in the wrong
Theres some logic to this: we have sex education programs in our
schools and public health and safety programs, so why not gun safety?
After all we have more than 30,000 gun deaths each year in America,
60% of which are suicides. And each year more than 3,000 children and
teenagers are killed by firearms.
One year, in fact, the federal Centers for Disease Control reported
that 5,285 children were killed by firearms in the U.S., compared to
zero children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 57 in Germany and 153 in
What distinguishes the United States from a country like Japan where
no kids are killed? Simple: Japan prohibits gun ownership, except for
shotguns and single-shot rifles for hunting. And the average Japanese
doesnt care all that much about guns; only 3 people in 100 own a gun
in Japan, so theres virtually no gun crime.
By contrast, its estimated that half of all adult Americans own a
gun, with somewhere between 238 million and 276 million firearms in
private ownership. No one really knows how many are out there.
Owing to their slavish allegiance to the NRA, it often seems that
every state legislature in America loves guns more than they love
children. So theres no chance that lawmakers will ever approach the
problem of kids getting killed from the perspective of there being too
many armed lunatics or careless uncles out there. Instead, they will
meet the problem with coloring books and CDs.
Thus, the sad revelation of the need to warn 5-year-olds of the threat
of being shot by their playmates or some depressed psycopath -- an all
too common occurrence.
Funny, but so many parents wouldnt even dream of allowing their kids
to play with toy guns. And you can be suspended from school in America
for simply pointing your finger and yelling bang. Heres hoping
your kid never sees a real one, in school or anywhere else.