Sen. Maralyn Chase, a Democrat, said she is very fond of the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, which she said has used to teach her own grandson about gun safety. The program includes the mantra, “Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.”
“If a child finds a gun, they think, oh, it’s a toy, and they can pick it up,” Chase said Thursday. “We need to include gun safety in all the other safety things we teach our children. If you get on fire, drop and roll. Don’t take candy from a stranger, don’t get in cars from strangers, don’t pick up a gun.”
Chase, who received a D-ranking from the NRA for her stance on gun control issues in 2010, is sponsoring two bills that would promote use of the Eddie Eagle program in Washington schools. Senate Bill 5660 would require the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create a gun safety program using Eddie Eagle teachings, which schools could then adopt during the 2014-2015 school year. Meanwhile, Senate Joint Resolution 8006 asks the Legislature to pass a memorial resolution urging all schools, preschools, daycare programs and licensed child care providers to use the Eddie Eagle program to teach firearms safety.
While Chase’s views don’t always jibe with those of the NRA, she said the organization’s Eddie Eagle program has nothing to do with gun rights, only common-sense gun safety.
Instructional materials associated with the Eddie Eagle program feature photos of a man in an eagle costume talking to children, as well as an illustration of children of different races smiling next to a cartoon version of the Eddie Eagle mascot.“It’s not to teach them how to operate a gun,” Chase said. “That’s farthest from my mind.”
Both of Chase’s bills are scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee today at 5:30 p.m.
The lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment this morning.
Senate Bill 5660 stipulates that OSPI would have to develop the proposed firearms safety curriculum using existing funds, rather than at additional cost to the agency.
UPDATE 2:55 p.m.: OSPI spokesman Nathan Olson said that his office has yet to take a stance on Chase’s proposal for the agency to develop a NRA-inspired gun safety curriculum. “Our feeling is that if it moves forward in the process, then we’ll take a look on it and have an opinion on it at that time,” Olson said.