It’s true that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. And in this case, we can also add “better late than never” when it comes to the published findings of a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics study in which children who watched a gun safety video were ultimately less likely to touch or pull the trigger of a handgun they found. They were also more likely to tell an adult.
Sound familiar? It should. But not because of anything JAMA did. The highly effective message of "Stop! Don’t Touch! Run Away! Tell a Grown Up!" has been taught to tens of millions of American schoolchildren for more than four decades as part of NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, which was developed in the late 1980s and ushered into NRA curriculum in the early 1990s by the one and only Marion P. Hammer, NRA’s first woman president (1995-1998). Hammer won a National Safety Council's Outstanding Community Service Award in 1993 for her work on the program.
Of course, NRA has known for many years that the message works. So that an NRA program has provided positive training in the area of child gun safety has been validated by an outside source is accompanied by a bittersweet (but familiar) taste, as there was no mention in the JAMA study—or mainstream media’s reporting—of the NRA’s proven program.
Fortunately, NRA members are thick-skinned, and are well aware that the study had a familiar ring. Our friends at NRA’s Hunters’ Leadership Forum has more details here, as does NRA-ILA, and our friend Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms (who was first to report on the study, noting the conspicuous absence of the correlation to the NRA program).
It’s OK that NRA is left to toot its own horn for creating award-winning programs like Eddie Eagle—we’re used to it. What matters is that it remains true to its goal of starting kids off in the right direction as they progress in their journey toward safe and responsible gun ownership as adults. We welcome the continued flattery.
But those who believe Eddie Eagle's wings have been clipped should know that the program remains relevant and continues to resonate. Sadly, there are those in power who remain intent on denying any positive impact of NRA programs. In fact, both houses of the Kansas legislature passed legislation in April 2023 to establish grade-appropriate curricula guidelines to teach gun safety to students of all ages. According to NRA-ILA, “The bill provided that the 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).”
To learn more about the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, please go to eddieagle.nra.org.