Panel OKs firearms safety course

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(Photo by NINA RYDALCH)Education Committee members discuss a gun safety education course on Jan. 30.

BOISE — The Idaho House Education Committee voted last Monday to introduce a bill that would encourage schools to establish and maintain a firearms safety education course.

Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, who brought forth RS25793, said Idaho law is not clear on whether schools are permitted to teach gun safety, causing confusion for educators who may want to provide such training.

Nate said at least 12 states currently allow for gun safety classes in public schools. No state currently mandates gun safety courses to be taught, and Nate’s bill would only encourage schools to adopt such a class.

“Hopefully Idaho can join the list of other states in adding child safety by teaching (children) the basics about guns and gun safety,” he said. “It can be a life saver.”

Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, asked Nate why the new section should be added to the law.

“I guess my only question is — I think that all children should have gun safety classes,” Syme said. “I don’t care what age they are as long as they can understand — Why isn’t it brought in like a resolution form versus putting it into law? Because in it, it says, you know, ‘encouraged,’ ‘may,’ so it doesn’t really direct anybody to do anything.”

Gun safety courses are currently available by law to the general public. In response to Syme’s question, Nate said some educators may be confused about the legality of such courses in Idaho public schools.

“It removes all doubt as to whether it’s legal or not to have in schools,” he said.

In 2017, Nate came forward with a similar bill, which was rejected 9-6 by the committee. The Spokesman-Review reported in March that committee members questioned the “logistics and cost” associated with the bill.

Nina Rydalch covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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