Kids learn about gun safety through class

Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2000

A child with a gun in hand is not a wanted sight in the classroom, but for 10 children Saturday, it was their chance to see it happen.

They were yelling, not for help, but about what to do when they see a gun.

"Stop." "Don't touch." "Leave the area." "Tell an adult," the children screamed.

They class, filled with kids ages 6 to 12, recited the directions they were given moments earlier by instructor Rod Christopher of Peninsula Weapons Academy.

The kids, both boys and girls, attended a class teaching them that guns do not kill people, people kill people and issues involving gun safety.

Christopher also stressed the importance of not touching guns without adult supervision.

"You cannot tell by looking at a gun if it is empty or not," Christopher said. "All guns are always loaded, no exceptions."

He not only explained this rule, he unloaded a seemingly empty shotgun and a dummy cartridge flew out. Dummy rounds are used in the classes instead of real ammunition.

Most all hands raised when the children were asked if they knew where their parents kept their guns. Many hands stretched high when asked if they had ever held a gun, and for those who had not, this was their opportunity. A large array of guns, including a shotgun, a pistol and a rifle were on hand.

More than half the class, one at a time, stood at the front and held the unloaded gun of their choice. Many were timid, while others held them with apparent experience.

Christopher said kids need to handle guns in a controlled environment so when they find them in an unsupervised situation, they won't make a mistake.

Christopher told those who liked the experience that they should go home and talk to their parents about it.

Jake Nagle, father of 9-year-old Jacob, said his family hunts and fishes and takes every opportunity to expose his son to gun safety.

"I think it's a good idea," Nagle said.

Lisa Dale brought her sons, Dustin, 12, and Ryker, 7, to the class. The boys had past experience in handling guns but not a lot. She said she thought the class would be a good reinforcement for the kids.

Both boys talked about the class days later.

"They really enjoyed the class; they learned what he taught," she said. "(Christopher) left a deep impression."

Dale said she was pleased with the class and wouldn't mind taking a class herself.

The children's gun safety class is one of many that are hosted by Soldotna Community Schools. Rosie Reeder, director of Soldotna Community Schools, said Christopher has been teaching gun safety for more than three years.

Reeder said if the community wants children not to experiment with guns and to respect them, children need to learn gun safety.

Hara Hansen brought her daughters, Kayleen, 6, and Megan, 7, to attend the class.

The girls have heard almost identical safety rules from their dad, Hansen said, but to have another adult solidify the information is important.

"I think it's a good thing for them to know," she said.

Hansen said she didn't see gun safety as any different than wearing a bicycle helmet or knowing the rules when riding a snowmachine, and that it's needed information.

Christopher also explained the parts of the gun, how not to point the muzzle at anything they don't want destroyed and to never put a finger on the trigger.

Videos also were part of the interactive class. The words of safety not only came from Christopher, but from Eddie Eagle, a safety-conscious bird.

Christopher is certified federally, by the state and the National Rifle Association and offers training in all types of firearms.

At the end of class, each child was asked to recite the rules of gun safety to receive a certificate.

When the students left the class, Christopher said he felt as though he had helped.

"That's my mission, to make sure they know," he said.

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