Everything You Need to Know About the Wisconsin High School Firearms Education Bill
Trap and target shooting teams are part of the high school experience for many students, but schools have little to offer when it comes to gun safety or training courses.
Wisconsin intends to change that with 2017 Assembly Bill 427 by creating a formal structure which allows schools to offer firearms education classes on site. Here’s an overview of everything you need to know about the pending legislation and what it could mean for you.
What Wisconsin 2017 Assembly Bill 427 Allows
The primary purpose of the bill is to help high schools develop a curriculum in firearm safety courses for students. With shooting clubs growing in popularity, there is some concern about the lack of available training in a formal educational setting. The legislation aims to remedy that by creating a standard to which all schools can adhere.
If the bill is passed, school superintendents would be required to develop curricula. This would be done in conjunction with one of the following entities: a law enforcement agency, the Department of Natural Resources, or an organization that specializes in firearms certifications or safety training.
The bill also requires instructors of all of the classes to have proof of participation in firearms safety training themselves. This ensures that teachers are well versed in the topics at hand and can suitably provide guidance to others.
Rep. Ken Skowronski (R), the sponsor of the bill, stated that high schools would be allowed to offer the class as an “elective of choice.” Student participation is not mandatory and individual schools do not have to offer the course. In other words, the government would not be shoving it down your throat.
High school students will be able to bring their own firearms to school if they’re in the class. This allows hands-on learning about the safe use of handguns, shotguns, or rifles.
The bill would not affect any current laws or overturn current prohibitions on live ammunition on school property.
The class would be an elective, not a required course.
The Case For Wisconsin 2017 Assembly Bill 427
As shooting sports grow, giving high school students ample opportunities to learn about gun safety is crucial. Additionally, hunting is popular in Wisconsin, and safety is paramount. Offering these classes ensures that students will receive proper training.
Schools would have the freedom to create similar classes on their own. However, there would be a set standard regarding the curriculum. The bill enforces formal requirements that ensure the course meets educational standards.
The bill could increase interest in trap and target shooting teams. This would encourage more students to participate in after school programs and competitions. Participating in sports improves self-esteem and helps students bond with others who share the same interest.
This also introduces students to careers that they might not have considered. Some of these include becoming a firearms safety teacher or a hunting blogger.
Finally, the class could also cover hunting and tracking skills. Wisconsinites would definitely be interested in this. Roughly thirty percent of their teens hunt, according to this Applied Population Laboratory study.
The Case Against Wisconsin 2017 Assembly Bill 427
The primary point of contention regarding the bill is the idea of high school students bringing firearms to school. Even if ammunition isn’t allowed, you can’t tell if a gun is loaded or not at a glance, so people may be uncomfortable in their presence.
There is some concern that the bill will allow handguns into schools as well. Traditionally, pistols aren’t seen as hunting or sporting weapons. Some suggest the inclusion of handguns creates an unnecessary risk. Not only are they easy to conceal, but many associate these weapons with violence.
Banning ammunition doesn’t guarantee that a student wouldn’t bring a loaded gun to school. In some cases, simple forgetfulness could result in ammo making its way into schools. Others may do so intentionally. However, this risk already exists today.
The Question of Funding for Firearms Safety Classes
One of the biggest roadblocks to offering a gun safety course is funding. While this bill gives schools a mechanism for providing the class, it doesn’t include additional funding. Since most high schools operate on a tight budget, adding a course might not be feasible. Not only do the materials and space need to be available, a suitable instructor is also required.
Justifying the cost for a new elective isn’t easy. If another class must be cut to make room, gaining support can be a challenge. Most schools already make tough choices regarding their electives, and not everyone gets access to their preferred classes.
If a school is considering adding a firearms safety course, they’ll need to demonstrate that the demand is there to get funded. Some of this funding could come from private sources interested in advertising in these courses.
Adding suitable gun safes to the training classroom limits access, so securing rifles, shotguns, or handguns is simple. Implementing rules regarding how the guns are brought on to campus would also help. For example, bringing firearms through a specific door at a certain time on particular days, as well as making storage methods mandatory may ease the minds of many.
Such an approach increases the likelihood that students interested in guns will receive high-quality safety training. And that would reduce the risk of accidents. Since these teens are using firearms, making educational courses accessible makes total sense. However, parental consent is a must before any student enrolls.
Trap Shooting as Sport
Skowronski believes trap shooting should be viewed like any other sport at school. Not only does it teach safety and responsibility but it is also fun, just like attending a baseball game, he said. Having a passion for firearms could also inspire students to consider a new career, such as becoming a firearms instructor or hunting blogger.
It’s naïve to think that kids aren’t using guns now. Therefore, rather than leaving it up to the parents, let’s educate them in school. If precautions are taken and protocols developed, these classes could save kid’s lives.
This article is by Will Salisbury, owner of the gun safe review website bestgunsafepro.com. Best Gun Safe Pro provides the best gun safe reviews and information out there. I’m an avid hunter and gun enthusiast, and have been hunting since the age of 12. Educating people on gun safety is one of my passions, as it can help save lives.