Students in Tennessee, Michigan, and other states could get a better understanding of how to safely handle firearms through pending legislation to bring programs to schools.
House Bill 2882, filed by Madison County Republican Rep. Chris Todd, aims to require schools to teach students firearm safety beginning in the 2025-26 school year, citing “firearm training and safe storage measures” as a “necessary component of public safety.”
“It is the intent of the General Assembly that such measures be taught to our school children,” the bill reads.
The legislation, introduced on Wednesday, tasks the departments of education and safety with working with the state’s fish and game commission to “determine the earliest grade in which it is appropriate for students to begin receiving instruction on firearm safety,” as well as potential risk factors.
“Beginning with the 2025-26 school year, each (school district) and public charter school shall annually provide students with age-appropriate and grade-appropriate instruction on firearm safety,” it reads. “The instruction must begin with the earliest appropriate grade … and must continue in each subsequent grade through grade twelve.”
Minimum topics include safe storage, school safety, how to avoid injury from a found firearm, and lessons to never touch a found firearm and to instead immediately notify an adult.
The legislation requires lessons to “be viewpoint neural on political topics, such as gun rights, gun violence, and the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution,” and prohibits the use of live ammunition or live firearms.
The state education department and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency would develop the curriculum, WSMV reports.
The bill follows other firearm legislation introduced by Todd that has drawn pushback from gun control activists, including House Bill 7064 to allow more people to carry firearms on school campuses. That legislation, considered during a special session on public safety in the wake of a mass shooting at The Covenant School in March, did not become law.
Todd isn’t the first lawmaker to introduce legislation to better educate youngsters about firearms. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Michigan are backing a similar proposal for optional firearms safety courses for students, will bills introduced in both chambers of the legislature in November.
House Bill 5334 and Senate Bill 664 would allow schools the option of offering firearm safety instruction for students in grades six through 12, a move bill sponsor Rep. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, said has multiple benefits.
“It teaches the safety and importance of understanding what these weapons do and the fun purposes” they’re used for by sportsmen across the state, he said. “It’s another opportunity for a student through an elective to learn, respect and hopefully enjoy the outdoors.”
In addition to learning respect and proper handling of firearms, Senate sponsor Jon Bumstead, R-North Muskegon, said it also “might help with our hunter numbers,” which have been on a decades-long decline with the exception of a brief increase during the pandemic.
VanderWall and Bumstead said they’ve received support for the bill from many Democrats, the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the state’s largest conservation organization.
“We’re not getting much for kickback” beyond lawmakers that are opposed to hunting in general, Bumstead said. “We’d like to get this done by the end of the year.”
MUCC Policy and Governmental Affairs Manager Justin Tomei said the legislation is “amongst our top priorities for the remainder of the legislative session.”