Keeping Eddie Eagle out of school shortsighted

Letters

October 17, 1999

The recent decision by Carroll elementary school principals to hold off on putting the Eddie Eagle in the classroom was a mistake.

It was not necessary to have Eddie Eagle in the classroom. This program is a 15-minute presentation that can easily be done in an assembly period. It does not require special preparation by teachers.

All of the material is provided and it does not promote gun ownership. Not to use this program leaves our children with a major void in their safety training. We spend many hours teaching them to say "no" to drugs, not to drink and not to smoke. We spend time teaching about fire safety both in the school and at home. Yet we fail to teach our children to leave guns alone -- a simple message that can help prevent a tragedy.

If you see a gun, "Stop, don't touch, leave the area and tell an adult." I respect the decision of adults who do not want to own a gun. I would never presume to circumvent their wishes that their children never be exposed to guns.

However, because in so many homes guns are present, it is essential that we teach all children what to do if they find a gun. As parents, we can ill afford to run the risk that our child may be injured or killed at a friend's home when the friend decides to show them "dad's gun".

However, that is just what we are risking. Our school leaders, who are in a position to help minimize that risk, have failed to take positive action on this critical issue. The reason is a bias against the sponsor of this program.

What is more important, the safety of our children or not using the National Rifle Association-sponsored safety program? Since its inception in 1871, the NRA has been a strong advocate of gun safety. As a result of its efforts, shooting sports have the best safety record around.

It was in that context that the NRA saw a need to provide a safety program for children. Children and guns don't mix, so Eddie Eagle was created to help our children learn that they must not play with guns.

I have a copy of "Gun Safety with Eddie Eagle." I reviewed it again last night. It is 7 minutes long and except for the copyright line at the end of the tape, the NRA is never mentioned.

I am calling on the members of the school board and Superintendent William Hyde to implement this program in our schools. We have never had a problem in Carroll County, but that does not mean we won't. If we take the lead, maybe other school systems will follow. If it helps to prevent one child from being hurt, it will have been a success and it will only have cost 15 minutes of time.

W. David Blair, Manchester

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