LOS ANGELES – Arizona schools have added a fourth "R" to reading, writing and arithmetic — rifles.
Students who choose to enroll in this new course learn the safe way to handle a gun and earn one credit — the equivalent to ceramics or photography electives. Critics are gunning the debate; they say handing teenagers loaded weapons equals trouble.
“I'm afraid these programs are really geared more toward increasing peoples interest in guns rather than safety,” said Dr. Mary Rimsza, director of the Student Health Center at ASU (search).
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However, some students say it is on target with their curriculum.
“We learn life skills, like when we miss [a shot], not to get mad. You learn a lot of cooperation with your team members,” said student Kim Peters.
And many parents argue they would rather their children learn how to handle a gun and be safe, than be sorry.
“It is very important for a child to be proficient responsible with a firearm as a hobby or just practical shooting, he should know how to operate it just like you would teach a child how to operate a saw or any hand tool,” said parent Scott Marx.
Arizona's State Game and Fish Department said it will dispatch qualified, trained instructors to every school that signs up.