Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
Why it matters: Firearm safety education in schools presents an opportunity to educate youth on the importance of safe and responsible behavior around firearms. The curricula described in Senate Bill 552, which includes the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism’s Hunter Education curriculum, presents an opportunity to introduce students to firearms while potentially recruiting the next generation of sportsmen and women. Given the importance of hunting and recreational shooting to the American System of Conservation Funding, these opportunities represent an important opportunity to complement hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts.
On Monday, March 14, CSF’s Kent Keene testified in front of members of the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Federal and State Affairs in support of Senate Bill 522 (SB 522). This legislation would require the Kansas States Board of Education to develop a standardized curriculum for firearm safety education that would be available to Kansas’ public school district. With this curriculum developed, the decision whether to incorporate it would then be left to each school district.
Last year, a similar CSF-supported bill was passed by the legislature but was ultimately vetoed by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly due to a variety of concerns. However, CSF maintains that developing a standardized curriculum would provide Kansas educators with an opportunity to introduce students to the safe and responsible handling of firearms in a highly controlled setting. Such introductions are invaluable to ensure that students of all ages know what to do when they encounter a firearm. Though SB 522 would not require school districts to incorporate the firearm safety curriculum, it is the hope of CSF and our partners that all school districts would consider adding these educational opportunities for the benefit of the Sunflower State’s children.
From the perspective of sportsmen and women, such educational opportunities could serve as a recruitment opportunity into the world of hunting or the shooting sports, particularly when this education is provided in the form of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ (KDWP) Hunter Education curriculum. Given the importance of these activities to conservation funding through the American System of Conservation Funding, such opportunities should not be understated.
In addition to verbal testimony, CSF shared a formal letter of support for SB 522 with members of the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs, and the entirety of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. From here, SB 522 awaits further action in the Senate.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?