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Oregon Lawmakers Consider Gun Education Bill For First-Graders

First-graders in Oregon public schools could receive firearms safety training in the classroom under a bill up for a public hearing in Salem on Wednesday.

Students would not be shown how to use a gun. Instead, the once-a-year class would help kids learn the difference between a real gun and a toy, as well as what to do if they find a gun.

The proposal is the idea of Derek LeBlanc, who runs a Eugene non-profit that’s taught firearms safety to thousands of kids up and down the west coast. “It’s not designed to scare them," he said. "It’s designed to open up their minds and show them that there are accidents that could happen if they’re not safe.”

LeBlanc says his main message to kids is: If they find a gun, they should run away and tell a grown up.

Under the bill, public schools would not be required to offer the class. Parents who don’t want their kids to participate could opt out.

“Even if you don’t believe in guns, and don’t have them in your homes, that doesn’t mean your child won’t eventually be somewhere where they find one,” said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, who is one the bill’s chief sponsors.

The measure is opposed by Ceasefire Oregon, a group that advocates for stricter gun laws. In a fundraising email to supporters, the group outlined its concerns about the bill. “Why is the burden of gun safety placed on six-year-olds but not on adult gun owners in the form of safe storage, training, and other regulations proven to reduce gun violence?” said the email.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”