By Larry Simoneaux
Danny Westneat is a columnist for The Seattle Times.
Recently, he wrote a column concerning the tragic series of incidents wherein children have been either seriously injured or killed due to accidental shootings.
In that column, he noted that, despite these accidental shootings, an anticipated backlash against firearms sales and ownership has not occurred and, in fact, just the opposite seems to be happening.
“In March and so far in April, more people have gotten concealed-pistol permits than ever.
“It’s part of an extraordinary ‘arming up’ of this state that began a few years ago and only seems to be escalating. Since 2009, the number of people licensed to carry here has jumped more than 50 percent, to about 360,000.
“Now one in 14 Washington adults is legal to pack concealed heat — nearly triple the rate of the gunslinger state of Texas.
“Gun sales are up everywhere. So much so that The New York Times just ran a feature on ‘covert carry’ clothing lines, with quick-access holster slits for the fashion-aware gun owner.”
He then mentioned conversations that he’d had with Dave Workman, a local firearms rights advocate, regarding the surge in (and possible reasons for) the escalation in gun sales.
With all of the above in mind, he ended his column by mentioning and (possibly, with a little reluctance) endorsing an idea that Mr. Workman had proposed. That idea would be to include basic firearms safety as part of the curriculum in local schools. Basically, we’d treat the issue of firearms and firearms safety as a public-health issue much the same as sex education.
At that point, you could’ve pushed me over with a feather. A realistic, rational, safe and doable proposal regarding firearms safety published in a major Seattle newspaper.
Those of you who are adamantly opposed to firearms ownership should now probably put this newspaper down for a few minutes, breathe deeply, “un-flabbergast” yourselves, and consider the fact that this is not some “off-the-wall” endorsement of an idea espoused by a “gun nut.” It’s simply a recognition of a problem we face with a reasonable and rational suggestion attached for discussion.
As a society, we’re not going to do away with firearms ownership at any time in the near future. Further, gun sales are, indeed, increasing. Many homes now have at least one — and likely more — firearms present within their walls. Kids and young adolescents are now, have always been, and will always be curious — and that curiosity extends as much to firearms as it does to sex.
Given all of this and more, I support this idea because it just seems logical that more knowledge, understanding and (yes) even basic safety training would be the hands-down default position on such an issue. This, rather than a likely immediate denunciation of such a proposal and, basically, doing nothing other than calling for more “reasonable laws” (of which there are already thousands) to be passed.
Unfortunately, I know that this idea will not sit well with everyone and that few, if any, schools or school boards will endorse it. It’s a political and societal hot potato and it would require a ton of willingness to weather the storm it would surely generate.
That said, one thing to remember is that most kids now get all of their firearms training from video games (“kill anything and everything that moves”) or Hollywood (motto: “always at the forefront of firearms safety and basic handling skills”) and that, to me, isn’t the best of all possible worlds.
Having certified firearms instructors teaching safety skills in a safe environment (there are “dummy” firearms and inert ammunition available for training purposes) couldn’t do anything but help. Too, I’d be willing to bet that many certified instructors would even volunteer their time to do this. More so if the state would step in and offer, let’s say, “no cost” Discovery Passes or reduced fishing and hunting license fees to those who’d volunteer to teach such courses.
As an aside — and given what’s happened over the past few months — I’d also offer that it might not be a bad idea for us adults to sit in on the classes, too.
It’ll never happen, though, will it?
And that’s the pity.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to email@example.com.