Committee shoots down gun training for schools

AUGUSTA — A bill that would have required public high schools to offer firearms safety and training courses was voted down in the Legislature's Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on Thursday.

While most lawmakers on the panel said the measure was a good idea and they liked the thought of providing an optional gun safety and training course for Maine teens, they didn't like the idea of mandating it, without funding, for an already overburdened public school system.

The committee voted 11-1 against the bill, with two lawmakers absent from the vote.

"The idea, I think, is a useful one," said Rep. Bruce Macdonald, D-Boothbay, the House chairman of the committee. "But I'm against a mandate on the schools or in any way adding this kind of thing to the curriculum."

David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, which had spoken in support of the measure, said after the vote that he wasn't disappointed and he understood the committee's decision.

Trahan said he believed the basic goals of the measure could be achieved without a law change or a mandate. He said conversations with the Maine Department of Education led him to believe there might be room for gun safety in the state's Learning Results curriculum, which includes segments on safety and prevention.

He had suggested the safety program be modeled after the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle gun safety program, which teaches young children who encounter guns to immediately leave the area and inform an adult. 

Trahan said SAM would work with the Education Department and others to focus on a model safety curriculum that schools could use if they chose to. That program would focus on preventing firearms accidents and would be designed for children in kindergarten through grade five.

"I think progress will be made with what we are interested in doing, which is, we want the first experience a child has with a firearm to be a benign experience," Trahan said. "We've done a good job over the last 15 years reducing accidents and deaths associated with youth and firearms. That job will never be done until there is never a child injured by a firearm."

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 's picture

Schools should stick to academic education.

I am surprised that this even went up for a vote. Schools are responsible for providing children with the curriculum that will get them into the secondary schools of their choice. Parents are responsible for teaching gun safety. I would be very upset if my own children had to waste their time on mandated firearm safety and training in high school!

PAUL MATTSON's picture

So much for education-

So much for education-

Mark Elliott's picture

As much as i want my children

As much as i want my children to be protected in school, a legislative mandate is the last thing we should do. As an NRA supporter, I am willing to bet you'll agree when I say most CCW holders would carry in school if they were simply allowed to do so and most would probably already have or be willing get the proper training without requiring taxpayers foot the bill.

The solution is so simple...that's why our legislators aren't seeing it. Lift the "gun free zones"! Schools, CCW holders AND PARENTS can then devise a plan that works for their school, in their neighborhood.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Committee shoots down gun training for schools

Mainers, 13.02.21 19:25 ?
Good •  Save the Reserve Officer Training Corps ( R O T C ) for college and join the Boy - Girl Scouts or Ventures in H S . Good training b t w - We ? you all ME National Guardsmen and women . Welcome home ?
What ever happened to bows and arrows and sling shots ?
" In my day we brought frogs to school . Frogs !! You bring a frog to school today someone would shoot it . "-- Jeff Foxworthy , 1991
Stick to video ' shoot- em - up ' games , too , kids . In fact , they are really gruesome and realistic these days . Blood and guts , choose your weaponry , hamburger all over the highway , G T A
You can still \/olunteer at your local schools , National Rifle Association sports men and women . Try it . You'll like it . i volunteer . The kids are - s m a r t - these days ( & always were )
/s , Steve Dosh R P C V Micro ' 78 &

 's picture

Let's hope not

"...him to believe their may be room for gun safety in the state's existing Learning Results..." Dumb; very dumb. Forced gun safety training taking time away from courses students need to get into and succeed in post-secondary education. Why not home safety or woodstove safety, or a course in identifying aliens.
Defeating this stupid idea was the way to go.

Mark Elliott's picture

Many of us on the right will

Many of us on the right will even agree that a mandate is not the way to do this. IMO, legislation should ALWAYS be an absolute last resort in anything. Simply lifting "gun free zones" (lifting current legislation) and ALLOWING those faculty members that WANT to carry to do so, providing THEY have or are WILLING to get the proper training is enough. Most CCW permit holders understand this is more important than worrying about who will pay for it. This would go well beyond union desire, and it would only take one responsible holder per school to make a difference. Simply publicizing that there is a holder in the building would deter most.....

 's picture

Sorry, this is a lot of "Ideally" thinking

Armed professional guards were employed at Columbine. They exchanged fire with the murderers but failed to stop them and retreated because they were out gunned. Armed guards (resource officers) exist in some 20,000 schools. Have you heard of them stopping a shooting. Maybe they have, but if they have its not been in the news. But in one school that has been victimized, the resource officer was home sick that day. Faculty members are poor choices for armed guards. By tempement, training, and background. Second, volunteers are, well, volunteers. You can't count on them for a long term program. Might work very well for one school year until the headlines disappear, but not along term. A few teachers, with military or police training, who could be certified to be responsible, combat trained voluntary arm guards would help but that's not the basis for a national program.

 's picture

All options should at least be explored.

Yes, Colombine had an armed security guard. He was on his lunch break when the shooting started. He exchanged fire and drove them back into the school building, then waited for the police to arrive.

Unfortunately, both the security guard and the police officers were trained to try to contain the shooters and wait for SWAT to arrive before engaging an active shooter. Policies and procedures were revamped after Columbine to address the mistakes that were made. Now the policy is as soon as there are two officers, they are to engage the active shooter. If there is only one available officer, he is to engage the active shooter in an attempt to draw the shooters attention away from the civilians.

There have been many instances where an armed guard, school administrator, even students have engaged an active shooter and stopped an attack. Pearl Mississippi comes to mind. The school's assistant principal, Joel Myrick, retrieved a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol from his truck and detained the 16 year old shooter until the police arrived. Just recently an armed guard in Atlanta stopped a teen who shot at a couple of classmates.

Your reasoning about the abilities of teachers and/or volunteers does not hold up to close scrutiny. Especially since I just demonstrated that a faculty member in Pearl Mississippi was able to thwart a shooter. And need I remind you that it was essentially volunteers who won the American Revolution.

I am always amused at people who think that the military and police are somehow more qualified to defend themselves and others than other citizens. As others have said, anyone who has undergone training to obtain a concealed carry permit (and I mean classroom AND range time) is pretty much qualified.

Personally, I think this should be up to the local school systems and the parrents, not the State and Federal government. Like another reader said, when you start mandating thins, especially with budget restraints and other difficulties, you leave room for sloppy implimentation, and that's the last thing we need.

Mark Elliott's picture

They seem to think law

They seem to think law enforcement and military are machines.....they are people, just like teachers.

Noel Foss's picture

I agree...

Though I'd like to see it incorporated into more youth programs. Ideally responsible parents who have a gun in the house would go over safety rules with their children anyway, but responsible parenting often takes a backseat.

 's picture


Unfortunately, "ideally" shouldn't be the bases for policy.

Mark Elliott's picture

Proper firearms safety starts

Proper firearms safety starts with our children. We need to stop teaching them that firearms are evil and start teaching them how to handle them OR what to do if they are around one and wish not to be..........

 's picture


Firearms are a tool. Not a benign tool, but one that can be dangerous and needs to be respected. Every responsible gun owner knows that. My brother locked all his guns in a fireproof safe until his children were old enough to teach (after they started talking) and then never let a gun out of his sight until the children were teenagers and then only to hunt with a limited, usually 3, cartridges.

 's picture

Forgot something

In the safe the guns were partially disassembled (removed the bolts normally) so that they could not be fired. Guns were in safe. bolts and cartridges were separately locked up in other parts of the house


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