The NRA-sponsored gun accident prevention program called the ‘Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program’ is designed to do one thing: teach children basic gun safety.
To be specific, the program teaches children to complete four steps when they encounter a gun: “If you see a gun, STOP! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an adult.”
It’s really that simple. And to be clear, there is no political agenda (It’s not pro-gun or anti-gun). There is no mention of the National Rifle Association. It’s just a Smokey the Bear-style lesson to teach youngsters how to respond when they are alone in the presence of a firearm.
As the NRA has noted, the program is widely renowned and has been endorsed by numerous groups and elected officials, including the National Safety Council, the U.S. Department of Justice, 24 state governors and the National Sheriffs’ Association.
Thus far, the program has reached over 18 million children in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.
“We are proud to partner with the National Rifle Association on this very important issue, and we would like to express our full support for this program. The safety of our nation’s children is of paramount concern and I can think of no better way to provide them with knowledge about firearm safety than through the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program. This program, which has proven to be most effective, simply teaches children not to touch firearms and to tell adults immediately if they should come into contact with a firearm of any kind.”
– Former NSA President Sheriff John Cary Bittick, 2002
Bottom line: the program is about as noncontroversial and as apolitical as it gets.
Nevertheless, two Houston Independent School District (HISD) elementary schools in Texas (that’s right, gun-loving Texas!) decided to cancel their Eddie Eagle events after allegedly learning that the program was affiliated with the National Rifle Association.
But really, that doesn’t add up because the principal of one of the schools, Carlotta Brown of Peck Elementary School, had gone on a radio program along with an NRA community outreach representative and touted the merits of the program just prior to canceling the event.
“We are so elated to have the program in our school,” Brown told KTRH’s Matt Patrick Tuesday on Houston’s Morning News during a discussion with Matt and NRA Community Outreach Program representative Eric Lipp.
“It is very necessary so our children know playing with guns is to be something serious,” she continued. “We have to make sure all of our children are safe, all of our adults are safe, and it starts in elementary school.”
Brown was even asked by the radio host if any parents had complained about the decision to schedule the Eddie Eagle event because it is affiliated with the nation’s gun lobby.
“That’s not been the case in my school. It’s very important that we enlighten the school,” Brown said in response to that question.
(Start audio at 3:50)
However, later that day, Principal Brown cancelled the event. Again, what was the reason given for the cancellation? An HISD representative said the district did not know the NRA was involved.
Bottom line: HISD lied (or Principal Brown is a complete idiot that shouldn’t be educating children).
So, what’s the real reason she cancelled the event?
Well, it’s not clear but Ray Hunt of the Houston Police Officer’s Union speculated as to why both Peck Elementary School and Martin Luther King Early Childhood Center, which had also previously expressed enthusiasm about Eddie Eagle, made the decision.
“It was clear she [Principal Brown] knew who was putting it on and she was elated with it,” Hunt told Matt Patrick. “Somebody got in touch with her, I believe, and told her she wasn’t going to do it because it was connected with the NRA.”
In other words, there’s an institutional hostility toward the NRA. Parents and school officials are willing to forgo gun safety just because of the NRA sponsorship, which one can argue is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
“If this program was being sponsored by HPD or the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, there would be a line of people waiting for us to come teach it to them,” Hunt said.
What’s shocking though is that this happened in Texas!? Houston, at that, which as we all know is hosting the 2013 Annual NRA Meeting & Exhibits this coming weekend.