Analysis: Gun safety instruction tied to falloff in NRA members

Analysis: Gun safety instruction tied to falloff in NRA members

(S.C.) A plan to promote firearm instruction in South Carolina public schools has drawn national attention – with many pundits calling it a clumsy push back against gun control advocates in the wake of Sandy Hook and other school-based tragedies.

But a little noticed YouTube posting last summer by the National Rifle Association suggests that the effort to establish “Second Amendment Awareness Day” may actually fit better into a broader strategy aimed at cultivating support for gun rights among young millennials.

“Just like we teach them reading and writing – necessary skills – we would teach shooting,” Billy Johnson, a 20-something NRA commentator said in the video that was released in July. “It wouldn’t matter if a child’s parents weren’t good at it. We’d find them a mentor. It wouldn’t matter if they didn’t want to learn. We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade.”

The politics surrounding gun control have been generating conflict for generations, including the 2013 showdown in the U.S. Senate over a background check mandate. But even after a mentally disturbed 20-year-old opened fire on a Connecticut elementary school three years ago, local school boards interested in adopting anti-gun policies have run into potent opposition (See Cabinet Report Dec. 12, 2013).

It would seem logical that legislation proposed by several lawmakers in South Carolina would be an extension of that debate.

In addition to putting a spotlight on the constitutionally-protected right to bear arms, the bill by Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, calls for instruction for three years at each grade level about gun safety and the Second Amendment using curriculum that the NRA would help develop.

“I think having gun safety education in the schools is a great idea,” Rep. Bill Herbkersman told the Island Packet. “Some kids have been taught gun safety at home but others don’t have that knowledge.”

Critics of the proposal point out that the day chosen by the bill’s author to celebrate awareness of the Second Amendment is Dec. 15 – one day after the anniversary of Sandy Hook.

If the coincidence is too much to overlook, there is evidence to suggest alternative motivation.

Consider that gun ownership has dropped from half of all American households in the 1970s to about one-third today. If the trend continues, clearly the NRA has a big problem.

Use of Johnson as part of an outreach campaign to those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s would seem a clear response. And in his July commentary, the main topic isn’t necessarily about gun rights education but rather the glaring lack of attention given to a constitutional right as a part of most curriculum in most of the nation’s schools.

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