Though Eddie Eagle Program Is A Failure, Missouri Will Indoctrinate First-Graders

The NRA's Eddie Eagle is gonna teach 1st Graders all about guns!

The NRA’s Eddie Eagle is gonna teach 1st Graders all about guns!

“There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer

How young is too young to teach a kid about guns? Ten? Eight? Five ?Two? In Missouri they believe that six is old enough to teach children how to handle guns. First-graders in that state will be offered a class, with a syllabus written wholly by the NRA, starting the next school year. This includes students in public and charter schools. While the bill states that a “substantially similar or successor program of the same qualifications” would be accepted,  the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program is the preferred program for Missouri schools. The bill reads:

EDDIE EAGLE GUNSAFE PROGRAM: Each school district and charter school may annually teach the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program to first grade students, or use a substantially similar or successor program of the same qualifications. The purpose of the program will be to promote safety and protection of children and emphasize how students should respond if they encounter a firearm. School personnel and program instructors must not make value judgments about firearms. Firearms are prohibited from the teaching of the program. Students with disabilities will participate to the extent appropriate. (Section 171.410)

Wow, even the disabled kids can play! But teachers are not allowed to “make value judgments” about guns. Well, isn’t that conveeeeeenient? Especially since this same bill requires school personnel to participate in the Active Shooter and Intruder Response Training for Schools Program (ASIRT). So, on the one hand, Missouri is training teachers how to deal with an armed crazy person in the school and, on the other hand, they are helping to create that very scenario.

The Eddie Eagle program, which began in 1988, teaches kids what to do if they see a gun. Eddie tells kids to “Stop! Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.” That is actually very good advice. The problem is that the course has not had any effect on children dying from guns. Studies have shown that, even though kids memorize the instructions, they ignored them when put into a real-life situation. Behavioral skills training worked better, when compared directly to the Eddie Eagle class, but neither was effective in actually staying with kids when they were confronted with a realistic simulation. Another study done in the 1990s called Eddie Eagle “Joe Camel with feathers.”

The NRA has spent a lot of time and money recruiting kids through this Eddie Eagle program. They do it through animated DVDs and coloring books. They not only ignore groups that would prefer kids not to be exposed to guns at all, they work to discredit them, as they did with the The American Academy of Pediatrics earlier this year. The NRA has sponsored legislation which would not allow pediatricians to ask parents about guns in the home. They have been able to ban funding for the Centers For Disease Control’s research, preventing the CDC from trying to find out ways to prevent gun deaths, something that costs us $2 billion dollars every year in treating gunshot wounds. The NRA continues to promote and sell guns to children.

If you do a Google search for “Obama+indoctrination” you will get 949,000 results. The right has been wailing about it since before the president even took the oath of office. According to them, he has indoctrinated American children in myriad ways: by telling them to persist and succeed in school, through Black History month, by promoting tolerance  and even by just existing. Heck, even the First Lady has got her hooks into kids!  The right-wing in this country is fond of comparing this so-called indoctrination to what the Nazis did. Aside from Godwining the conversation (bzzzzt – you automatically lose), they are overlooking the sort of things that the Nazis did indoctrinate their children with: hyper-patriotism, unquestioning religious faith (of their particular flavor, of course) and the belief that they were superior to all others. Then they armed those children. We all know what happened then. Yet it is perfectly fine with the right – who inculcate their kids with those same ideas –  to indoctrinate American children into the cult of the gun. Sure. What could possibly go wrong?