Iowa School Districts Prepare To Start Mandatory Gun Safety Training For All Middle School Students

Middle school students in two Iowa school districts will soon be learning how to properly handle firearms as part of a mandatory hunter safety course being introduced in the next year.

Students in both the seventh and eighth grades in the North Butler and Clarksville school districts will take part in the classes starting in the 2019-20 school year, The Hill reported. High school students will also be able to take part in a voluntary class teaching how to properly use firearms, the report noted.

As school officials said, they hope the classes will properly teach students how to handle firearms -- and to respect them. In the classes, students will learn how to "use weapons responsibly, how to respect them, understand it's not a video game and those sort of things, that maybe we'll cut down on our chances of having a severe incident," said North Butler Superintendent Joel Foster.

Foster said he hopes the education will cut down on gun-related accidents as well.

"If my 12-year-old girl is out babysitting a 3-year-old and the 3-year-old walks out of mom and dad's bedroom with a handgun or a shotgun, she needs to know how to handle that," Foster said.

Across the country, a number of school districts are introducing measures to keep students safe from guns, especially in the wake of a series of deadly school shootings. Some of these have garnered controversy. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott introduced a 40-page plan to keep schools safe in the wake of a school shooting at Santa Fe High School that included arming school employees.

As the Texas Tribune reported, school districts were given two options if they chose to arm personnel.

"One is the marshal program, which Abbott proposed using state funds to help schools implement," the report noted. "It allows local school boards to authorize employees to carry a handgun on campus, but they must be specially trained and licensed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Under the program, armed school personnel can't carry firearms around students."

The other option, known as the Guardian Plan, would allow local school boards to set their own training standards and authorize employees to carry firearms on school campuses.

The firearm safety courses being introduced by the Iowa school districts will be taught by the Butler County Conservation Board, taking an existing program required of people seeking a hunting license. Parents who do not wish their children to participate will be able to opt out. The courses will not use operable firearms or live ammunition, The Hill reported.