Gun SAFETY Bill – Tennessee is SERIOUS!

Lawmakers in Tennessee have decided to open up a new front in the ongoing debate over school safety, gun control, and mass shootings.

The bill passed this week, which now heads to the governor’s desk, will require gun safety courses be given to public school students, and in fact mandates that students enrolled in the State’s school system participate in an annual firearms course. The bill does not allow parents or school boards to opt out of the requirement—an amendment that would have allowed parental opt-out was shot down during the legislative process.

The proposed legislation aims to reduce gun-related accidents, and will require courses to be age-appropriate. Course materials will likely consist primarily of videos and online materials which will acquaint students with topics such as school safety, firearms storage, notification of authorities if a gun is spotted in school, and how to avoid getting hurt in a gun-related incident.

The bill specifies that lessons may not incorporate live fire demonstrations, live ammunition, or functional firearms.

It further requires that all lessons maintain viewpoint neutrality on political issues such as gun violence, gun rights, and the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Proponents of the bill say this approach makes the requirement similar to the state’s requirement that schools conduct fire drills and instruct students on other such safety issues. Opponents of the bill complain that it does nothing to prevent what they see as the “root cause” of mass shootings in school: the existence and availability of privately-owned firearms.

If signed into law, curricular development will fall to Tennessee’s Department of Education and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, as well as the state’s Safety and Homeland Security Department, who will decide what information will be taught at what grade levels. The law would represent a big win for Second Amendment champions, and could serve as a model for similar legislation and creative policy solutions in other states.