Updated: Apr 16, 2020
During a recent conceal carry class, I was chatting with a student (a Millennial) about the importance of teaching children gun safety. He is an artist in a large city close to me and spends a great deal of time with teens and young people. What he said to me left me a little perplexed.
Teenagers think gun safety is completely uncool.
Interesting - at least from my perspective. I pride myself in having the ability to listen and be open-minded to arguments about gun safety and gun control. I don’t necessarily agree 100% with either side of those debates 100% of the time, but it’s imperative I remain unbiased if I want to make a true difference. Don’t get me wrong, if facts are being manipulated in an effort to influence people, I will step in and employ the truth, regardless of who it offends. But, this “teenagers think gun safety is completely uncool” matter got me thinking.
Why? What makes it uncool?
With the increasingly vast number of school shootings conducted by young people in our country, I wonder what kind of safety education, if any, is ever provided to adolescents? Based on my research, most shooters received their education online, and unfortunately it wasn’t gun safety education as proven by their intentions and results. So, what’s left after the crime? A lot of confused teens with voices that need to be heard. It’s our job to guide young people to be life-long learners, and this should include firearms education.
Over 160 middle and high schoolers across the country participated in a PBS Student Voice publication to share their concerns and opinions about gun safety and gun control one year after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. I read all of their entries. I can summarize most with the following:
Something needs to be done.
We need to find a way to solve these school shootings.
Local communities need to take more action.
It comes down to ethics.
We have failed too many kids.
Students must be part of the conversation.
Responsible gun ownership, yes, but this isn’t happening.
We need a new plan.
Change will not come on its own. We have to make it for ourselves.
It’s time to make a change, before another shooting.
Then, there was this one:
What needs to happen instead is education. We need to educate the public about guns in order to prevent firearm ignorance. We should have mandatory gun safety classes in school and teach young people what a firearm is, the tools and parts of the gun and what purposes they serve.
None of the over 160 entries had this simple theme. Gun safety education for young people. A pretty powerful message. Why do you think there weren’t more teens questioning the lack of firearms education in this collaborative effort? Is it just to taboo to talk about for them? Is it an off-limits discussion? Do they just not know how to talk about it? Or is it . . . uncool? Why is it that we don’t put enough, if any, focus on firearms education as we would teaching our children how to swim? Pools aren’t going away. Neither are guns. We want to know what you think. Do you feel that providing education to kids and teens might help them learn a healthier respect for safety and risks when it comes to firearms? What are your thoughts about implementing mandatory gun safety in schools?