Bills introduced for ‘hunters safety’ elective in Michigan Schools

Two goals; increasing safety and increasing hunters.
With two goals; increasing safety and increasing hunters.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 6:51 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An age-old Michigan pastime, and a tool to control the deer population, is decreasing in popularity.

With registered hunters on the decline, Michigan Legislators have been working with the Department of Natural Resources to increase interest among young people.

Newly introduced legislation in the Michigan House and Senate would allow hunter safety courses to be taught in Michigan schools. It would be an elective for 6th through 12th graders, taught by a certified instructor at no cost to the students or school.

“Gun safety continues to be a huge void, and this will give students the opportunity to take it,” said Representative Curt VanderWall, a Republican from Ludington.

VanderWall has been closely working with the Michigan Department of Education as well as the DNR to make this possible. With Republicans and Democrats behind the bills, VanderWall feels confident about its ability to pass.

Students who have completed the course will be considered qualified to purchase a hunting license if they choose to do so.

The village in Lansing has been teaching kids gun safety for a few years, and they say it’s important because abstinence doesn’t work.

“Kids are picking guns up, hurting themselves and others at an all-time high, and a lot of that could be solved with just a little education,” said Michael Lynn Jr., the Executive Director of the Village Lansing.

While on school grounds, students will have to use plastic educational materials just like this one. However, toward the end of the course, students will have the option to head to an off-site location and practice with real guns.

“Everything that will be done in the school setting will be no guns, no ammunition. The final part of the class, if they opt to take that, will be done at one of the sportsman’s clubs off-site,” said VanderWall.

Although some field day trainings use fake guns, other field day trainings use real ones. While the field portion and the class itself would be optional, End Gun Violence Michigan says curiosity often gets the best of young children despite their education.

“So it’s certainly not a bad thing to do, but it has to be done in combination with other sorts of interventions like safe storage,” said Ryan Bates, the Executive Director of End Gun Violence Michigan.

Two bills in Michigan’s State Capitol, both with two goals; increasing safety and increasing hunters.

The bills in question are House Bill 5334, and Senate Bill 664.

As the 2023 legislative session is over, no action will be taken on these bills until January.

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