Arizona Wants to Use Public Schools to Demystify and Destigmatize Guns

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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The Arizona House of Representatives is working hard to secure gun rights for the citizens of the Grand Canyon State. It has so far passed a slew of bills that include legalizing gun silencers and allowing parents to carry firearms on school campuses. Another bill that is raising eyebrows is HB 2332, which will require middle and high schools to offer training on how to properly handle a firearm. According to Arizona’s local NPR, parents would still be able to opt out. But even with this provision, groups like Moms Demand Action and Civic Engagement Beyond Voting are speaking out against the measure.


PHOENIX – Arizona’s House of Representatives is continuing to advance a bill requiring public middle and high schools in Arizona to offer training on the proper handling of firearms.

Rep. Selina Bliss, R-Prescott, who sponsored HB 2332, said she wants children to learn proper firearms handling from experts to stop accidental deaths, and denied that the bill was about training children to use firearms.

But opponents, including two high school students who testified against the bill this month, worry the training would take away already limited school resources and push gun culture in public schools.

I’m old enough to remember when schools had gun clubs. My high school yearbook would proudly display photos of the clubs as a representation of student engagement, with club members posing with their rifles and images of them performing target practice. Thanks to the Bloomberg-funded Moms Demand Action and groups like it, guns are now considered scary and dangerous, rather than a tool that can be used for self-defense, as well as teach accuracy, build proficiency, and encourage safety. Proper knowledge and tools build respect and caution, as well as the ability to know what to do in the presence of a gunman other than cower in fear. It is that very lack of knowledge that is at the root of shootings and deaths, along with the soft targets of gun-free zones that organizations like Moms Demand Action facilitate.


The Arizona Education Association (AEA) is also not on board. But then, this is the same entity that opposed former Governor Doug Ducey signing the school choice bill into law. They want more government funding for public schools to push their agenda, not parents deciding where their taxpayer funds will go. They also want children to be good activists rather than critical thinkers, promoting the Marxist #RedforEd movement with a full page on their website. But, that is a story for another day.

The Arizona Education Association opposes the bill as just another unfunded mandate.

“We have too many unfunded mandates that are having a negative impact on our public schools,” said Isela Blanc, legislative liaison for the AEA, said at a House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee meeting on Feb. 6. That committee passed the bill by an 8-7 vote, and the House Rules Committee advanced the bill on Feb. 13 by a 5-3 vote.

Then there are the two high school students who voiced opposition in the first committee hearing. These students allege that there would not be enough funding for classes that they consider more essential.

“This gun training would take away resources from our school’s top priority and only responsibility — to educate students in areas that will prepare us to become productive, valuable members of society,” said Bridgette Hanson, a Gilbert High School freshman, adding her seventh-grade newspaper class was stopped because of lack of funding.


It is fascinating that they could only find two to give testimony. According to Scholaroo, Arizona has the lowest spending per pupil. Yet, they still beat California, which boasts some of the highest spending per pupil, but has the lowest graduation rates. Without hearing more from these students, it is difficult to tell whether they are simply parroting talking points or if these are truly legitimate concerns. My bets are on the former as Moms Demand Action is all over funding and lobbying to oppose the bill.

Moms Demand Action, a nonprofit group advocating for stronger gun laws, also opposes the bill. The group has its own firearms safety program called Be SMART — an acronym for secure, model, ask, recognize and tell. The program is aimed at parents and firearms owners to take the responsibility, not children, said Kelley Ireland, co-leader of Be SMART in Tucson. Ireland added firearms safety training sessions in schools “could traumatize children.”

Training sessions traumatize children? So do gun-free zones with active shooters.

This legislative push is a smart move. The wrong type of gun culture is glorified in every video game and movie, and they aren’t going to be able to restrict students from either of those visual mediums. Why not counter that with actual knowledge, tools, and resources on how guns should be viewed and handled, and the promotion of the right type of gun culture—the one that encourages skill, safety, and community above thrill-seeking?



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