Surge in High School Shooting Sports Sparks Gun Education Bill
26 Jul, 2017By: Michael Popke
Legislators in Wisconsin say they recently introduced a bill that would allow high schools to teach gun safety to students because of the increasing interest in trapshooting teams. The sport has become one of the fastest-growing high school activities in Wisconsin, according to local media, with an estimated 1,400 participants this spring.
“Trapshooting isn’t sanctioned through the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) but a school district does have to vote to approve a team,” WKOW-TV reports. “This allows competitors to compete in both trapshooting and another spring sport at their high school.”
The sport is catching on in other states, too. In Minnesota alone, an estimated 3,000 high school students participated in last fall’s Minnesota State High School Clay Target League.
Last year, Sports Destination Management reported that clay target shooting was one of four types of shooting sports that saw significant participation gains in 2015. The 2016 Participation Report from the Physical Activity Council, which analyzes trends in exercise and physical activity, indicated that four of the top 10 growth activities in 2015 involved the use of firearms: target shooting (handgun), target shooting (clay), hunting (rifle) and target shooting (rifle).
“We saw it as another opportunity for groups or clubs our kids might be interested in,” Don Addington, principal of Bangor (Wis.) High School, which recently added trapshooting, told the La Crosse Tribune. “A lot of our students like to hunt.”
Which is why a pair of Wisconsin lawmakers have introduced the gun-safety education bill. “This is about something that is definitely legal and constitutional,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told Wisconsin Public Radio. “But we want to make sure that the opportunities are there for it to be done safely.”
“The bill states live ammunition would not be allowed in the course,” WPR’s report continued. “Kleefisch said the classes would likely operate off school grounds, as firearms are prohibited on school property. It also requires curriculum to be developed with the state Department of Natural Resources, a law enforcement agency or an organization that specializes in firearms safety or certifies firearms instructors. Under the bill, school districts are not required to offer the course, but if they choose to, the course must be taught or supervised by people with proof of training in firearms safety.”
“That is taken care of by [members of the local] rod and gun [club] and the coaches,” Bangor High’s Addington said, regarding gun-safety education training for the school’s trapshooting team members.
Other Wisconsin officials don’t think the gun-education law is necessary in schools, either. “In 2014, suicide and homicide were the second-leading cause of death for kids aged 15 to 19,” Rep. Sondy Pope, a Democrat, told WPR. “Making them more familiar and comfortable with guns doesn’t make much sense to me. Do we really need to introduce more weapons to these kids?”