On July 17, CNN ran a story with the headline, “A one-minute video reduced kids’ unsafe behavior around guns, study finds.” The item summarized the findings of study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics titled, “Effect of a Gun Safety Video on Children’s Behavior Around Real Guns.”
The JAMA Pediatrics study found,
In this randomized clinical trial, pairs of children aged 8 to 12 years who viewed a gun safety video at home and found a real gun hidden in a drawer in the laboratory were more cautious than children in a control group…
The researchers also found that “Children who had previously taken a gun safety course, [and] had guns in the home… were less likely to engage in unsafe behavior around real guns.”
What was the message in the safety video the children in the study were shown? CNN explained,
researchers at the Ohio State University created a randomized control trial in which 226 kids ages 8 to 12 were randomly sorted into groups. At home, one group watched a one-minute gun safety video featuring the Ohio State University police chief, while the other watched a similar video on car safety.
“Guns are not toys and are not to be played with,” Chief Kimberly Spears-McNatt states in the video. “If a child finds a real gun, they should not pick it up or move it. Instead, find an adult and tell them where it is located.”
This messaging will seem familiar to longtime NRA supporters. NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program teaches children to prevent firearm accidents using four simple steps if they come across a gun: Stop. Don’t Touch, Run Away. Tell A Grown-up.
Since launching in 1988, the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program has reached more than 32 million students. The program was developed by a task force made up of educators, school administrators, curriculum specialists, urban housing safety officials, clinical psychologists, law enforcement officials and NRA firearm safety experts. The program is offered free to sponsoring organizations.
Further, NRA-ILA continues to work to help provide this important message to children. This April, both houses of the Kansas legislature passed legislation to establish grade-appropriate curricula guidelines to teach firearm safety to students of all ages. The bill provided that the firearm safety curriculum for kindergarten through fifth grade “shall be based on the eddie eagle gunsafe program.” Unfortunately, this important safety bill was vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly (D).
Even some of NRA’s most ardent critics appear to understand the wisdom of Eddie Eagle’s simple message. In 2016, the New York Times reported Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts trumpeting a similar mantra. The news outlet wrote, “Children should be taught to leave the area immediately, not touch the firearm, tell an adult right away and call a parent, Ms. Watts said.” In 2015, anti-gun Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) tweeted, “I don’t agree w/ the @NRA on some big issues, but they deserve a lot of credit for teaching kids about gun safety. http://eddieeagle.com.”
In their recent article touting the JAMA Pediatrics study, CNN made no mention of NRA or Eddie Eagle. Could such assiduous avoidance of mentioning NRA and its longstanding program be calculated to avoid portraying the organization in a positive manner? Maybe. However, what’s important is that this coverage should help to spread Eddie Eagle’s life-saving message.