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Mandatory gun safety courses begin in 2 Iowa schools this spring

Former law enforcement officer Scott Bowlin, 47 prepares to enter a classroom to engage a simulated shooter during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards. (Luis Santana/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)
April 24, 2019

Two rural school districts in Iowa are implementing a mandatory firearm safety course as part of the physical education requirements for 7th and 8th graders.

School districts in Clarksville and North Butler, Iowa will start the programs this year and they will teach students proper gun procedures for loading and unloading, handling, caring, shooting and carrying, the Tribunist reported.

The program will be directed by the Butler County Conservation Board, and the guns used in the courses will be inoperable and live ammunition will not be used.

Aside from gun safety with unloaded guns, the course will also teach basic survival and first aid skills, water safety, wildlife identification, and once in-class training and homework is complete, students will receive a certificate of completion from the local Department of Natural Resources, Fox News reported.

This is a 10-hour mandatory course that students will take over a one-week period, although parents do have the opportunity to opt their child out and attend a study hall instead.

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High school students can also take the course if they so desire, but it is not required.

The superintendent for both school districts, Joel Foster, is encouraged that students will take a lot away from the courses, including what to do in the event of an active shooter situation, and reducing gun violence and gun-related accidents.

Foster said, “If my 12-year-old girl is out babysitting a 3-year-old and the 3-year-old walks out of mom and dad’s bedroom with a handgun or a shotgun, she needs to know how to handle that.”

The courses will instruct students on how to “use weapons responsibly, how to respect them, understand it’s not a video game and those sorts of things, that maybe we’ll cut down on our chances of having a severe incident,” Foster said.

In the two communities, it’s common for children to be introduced to guns when they are young age, and engage in activities such as fishing and hunting.

Foster said, “Our job and what we do best is education and educating our kids is a lot better than having them learn about these things on the street.”

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The decision to implement the course, which has been being contemplated for years, was hastened following the death of 15-year-old Kain Allen Schild, who died from an accidental shooting in May while fishing with friends.