Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk said he favors the idea of schools being able to offer an elective gun safety class.
“I think it’s a good bill,” Kowalczyk said Thursday. “I think a lot of parents will encourage their kids to take it. Law enforcement encounters an accidental shooting numerous times a year. If this program saves one person from being injured, or a fatality, it’s well worth it.”
Kowalczyk said he also likes that the class would be an elective and not a mandated program.
State Sen. Terry Moulton, R-town of Seymour, is among the legislators circulating a bill that would allow gun safety classes in schools. Moulton explained that under the bill, the state Department of Public Instruction and state Department of Natural Resources would work together to develop the curriculum for the class.
Dan Marcon, owner of Marc-on Shooting, an indoor range in Lake Hallie, said the bill is a great idea.
“We do firearm instruction classes at the shop, and we do it down to age 10,” Marcon said. “We are seeing people who don’t want to hunt, but they want to shoot.”
Marcon said he’s been offering classes at the range for the past year, and he’s now seeing similar firearms instructional courses taught at community colleges around the state.
Marcon said he is seeing the increase in students interested in trap shooting, and it makes sense to make sure those youth are properly trained.
“We think it’s a great idea to get them involved in the shooting industry,” Marcon said.
Moulton said the idea for the bill came from state Rep. Ken Skowronski, R-Franklin. He agreed with Marcon, saying there is a growing need for this type of offering, especially with a growing interest in trap shooting teams at schools across the state.
“Last year alone there were 4,000 students in Wisconsin that participated in trap shooting,” Moulton said. “I’m pretty amazed at how trap shooting took off in some school districts.”
The instructors would bring the guns into the classes; students wouldn’t bring their own guns, he added.
“There is no live ammunition involved at all,” Moulton said.
Moulton said he believes the bill will garner bipartisan support. The class has the added benefit of getting more youth interested in hunting, Moulton contends.
“Wisconsin has a strong sporting heritage, and it would allow more to be recruited into this sport,” Moulton said.
State Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, said he’s uncomfortable commenting on a proposal when it isn’t yet a bill he can read, but he said he generally favors the idea, as long as it is an elective class and the student receives parental consent first.
“Conceptually, I don’t see a problem offering electives for gun safety,” Wachs said. “If you are going to touch a gun, you should know how to use it.”
Menomonie schools Superintendent Joe Zydowsky said he needs to read the bill to learn more.
“I think gun safety is an important issue,” Zydowsky said. “I need to evaluate how it fits into our schools.”
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