A smart Tennessee fifth-grader followed proper safety procedures when he found a loaded handgun laying out in the open on his school playground. A firearms program that officials teach in his school instructed him on exactly what to do. The “Eddie Eagle” safety program is a series of instructions taught by the school’s Resource Officer, Deputy Jay Lawson. The program tells kids what to do when they see a gun in an unsupervised situation, which is to “STOP! Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.” Just after 10 a.m. on May 18, 2012, the fifth-grader found a loaded .22-magnum pistol laying near the swing set area on the playground at the school. Investigators later identified it as a small-frame American Arms model. They also checked the National Crime Information Center database but could not locate an owner, nor was it reported stolen.
The student reportedly followed the steps exactly, identifying the weapon, telling others to back away from it, and yelling for a teacher. If a younger student had picked up the weapon, it could have possibly been tragedy on the playground. According to the NRA Eddie Eagle website, the program educators typically teach the program to pre-K through third or fourth-grade students.
“We are thankful this student had been through this program. Through what deputy Lawson taught him, he was able to recognize danger and make sure the correct protocol was followed, alerting the other students and the faculty. If a younger student had picked up the weapon, it could have possibly been tragedy on the playground,” Sheriff Jim Ruth said.
The number of such accidents among children is down 89 percent since 1975. Firearms safety programs have proven to be instrumental in preventing accidents among children. Adults should remember however, that firearms safety begins at home. Teaching proper gun safety should begin early. Whether or not you are a gun advocate, we all want our children to stay safe.