Guns on Campus? Texas Legislator Files Bill Letting Schools Offer Gun-Training Courses to Kids During School Day
"Looking at the components of the bill, it's basic firearm safety," said Larry Hysmith, program specialist for Texas 4H, which currently offers extracurricular firearm training for similar age groups. Added Chris Boleman, Texas 4H's program director: "Education is critically important to what we do, and if this happens in schools, then you can kind of compare it to our relationship with FFA."
But public history courses already touch upon the Second Amendment. And numerous clubs and organizations -- 4H and Junior ROTC among the more notable -- already exist to train teenagers in proper firearm usage and maintenance.
Plus, for a public education system still reeling from the $5.4 billion cut in 2011, fiscal concerns and academic priorities still prevent wholesale support for such a firearm course.
"I understand the intent of the bill, but public policy is about priorities, and our priority in schools should be to make sure kids have basic information they need to be successful adults," said Rep. Gene Wu. "We should be devoting our funds to kids actually passing the STARR test, or to hiring back the teachers we let go."
And then, there's the issue that everyone acknowledges, but no one quite knows how to explicate, or examine. It's apparent that these students -- these hormonal 15- and 16-year-olds, suffering slights both romantic and social for the first times -- will be handling deadly weaponry, surrounded by social circles and pressures unknown to both instructors and parents. And that's, really, the crux of the issue. That, suddenly, these students aren't simply nursing grudges and bruises and social revenge -- with this course, and regardless of how much instruction and precaution the trained teachers offer, these students are handling weapons that schools have spent decades attempting to eradicate from their premises.
But that may be a bridge yet to cross. In the interim, this bill seems to have gained traction, at least among those around Houston. Firearm training cannot be overemphasized -- and for some, that training should begin during the most grueling, formative years of our lives.
"I love the spirit of this bill," said Mobley. "[You have] to expose young people to the harsh realities of firearms -- you have to expose them to the harsh realities to driving a car, to the harsh realities of life. ... I'd like to hammer out the details, but I like the first version of this thing. We're going in the right direction."