Sharing the importance of gun safety with children is one of the most important things we can do as adults. Whether you own a firearm or not, it is imperative for children to know what to do if they find a gun—stop, don’t touch, run away, and tell a grown-up! By Victoria L. Walker The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program is a firearm accident prevention program that helps parents, law enforcement, community groups, and educators begin the gun safety journey with the children in their lives. The program not only engages kids with Eddie’s cartoons, workbooks, and stories, but helps adults work through the safety education even if they have no experience with firearms.
Tracy Joyner—a mother of two—has been an education professional for years, having taught second grade at a small private school in Camden, Georgia. Her husband lives and works in New York City, but Tracy and her sons still reside in Georgia, and the family is reunited when they get breaks from school.
Tracy has homeschooled her son Chance since he was in elementary school. Living in rural Georgia, firearms are a necessity for home protection from wildlife. As such, Tracy knew she needed to teach her kids gun safety starting at a young age, and chose the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program to help her get started. Ever since she began this journey, she has emphasized the importance of the program to her friends and family.
Why did you decide to teach your son about gun safety through the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program?
I taught second grade for a while where I had permission from the principal to teach Eddie Eagle. When I started homeschooling my son, the program resurfaced.
One day, I was going through my filing cabinet and found an Eddie Eagle comic book from when I was teaching and my son loved it. When we finished the whole thing, there was a reward certificate that made him even more excited.
We then moved on to online classes. When he finished the online program, he went back through the comic book because he enjoyed it so much. He said it felt like it was for older kids.
We initially began this program because you never know what you’re going to run into when you live in a rural area with all these critters. We have swamps with ‘gators’, places with wild hogs that will attack a human—you name it, and we probably have it. With that being said, having a firearm in my home is important.
What is the most important thing you learned from the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program?
It’s to not fear a firearm. You need to protect your kids from that fear ideology where the firearm is the bad guy. A lot of times for children a jingle or song helps that concept stick. It’s important to show that having a firearm doesn’t make you a bad person, but you need to respect it.
What does your son think about the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program?
Chance is now in the sixth grade, and he still loves the program. So much, we still do it twice a week. The one thing he really enjoys is the characters. They all have different personalities, and he liked that they were all different ages. He also loves to read, so the mini-books that came with the lessons were fun for him.
Several months ago, we were discussing one of his lessons. It really helped him understand the importance of letting an adult know when there is a firearm in sight. Don’t try to hide it, tell an adult, and don’t try to act cool. If more children were exposed to a program such as this, maybe a 5-year-old would think back to what they learned and not pick that gun up.
This program has given him a certain respect for guns—rather than a fear. So, now that he’s just turned 12, Chase will probably learn how to use the firearm I keep for home protection since he has shown he is capable of handling it.
What was your takeaway from the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program?
It could almost help the parents just as much to think ahead. For example, if you are taking the kids to their grandparents’ house, you would think of how to prepare with gun safety in mind. Especially living in a rural area, where the majority of the residents own guns.
Overall, we loved it! It’s something I would recommend. The NRA is a reputable name, you trust. I am very particular about curriculum that comes my way. It was a relief to have that trust factor with this program.
We hope this family’s journey provided first-hand insight to how the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program can benefit your day-to-day lives.
For more information about Eddie Eagle, and to access storybooks, videos, materials, and more, visit www.eddieeagle.com.