I was six years old when I took my hunter safety course. We had to drive about an hour away and sat in a stuffy sportsman’s club for a few evenings to finally receive my card and the ability to buy a license. It would have been so much more convenient to take the course as a regular part of a school day. Now Illinois student will have that option.
According to Fox News, legislation, signed Friday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, now gives school districts in Illinois the option to build hunting safety education into the daily curriculum.
The bill was initially introduced in February by downstate Democratic state Rep. Monica Bristow.
“Hunting in Illinois is still very popular, and students can learn about hunting as a sport. Hunters have respect for guns,” she told Fox News, underscoring that the legislation stirred no opposition. “If people have to do the education course to obtain a hunting license anyway, why not be able to do this in school?”
Sen. Jason Plummer – a Republican and a sponsor on the bill – said: “students who are exposed to lessons in hunting safety have a greater chance of respecting firearms and using them properly for the rest of their lives.”
“As the law is shifting to emphasize the importance of safe handling, adopting legislation like this could make for an accessible path for students to learn these methods in-depth, early on in their lives.”
The law updates part of the school code, “provides that a school district may offer its students a course on hunting safety as part of its curriculum during the school day or as part of an afterschool program.” It also enables the state’s Board of Education to “prepare and make available to school boards resources on hunting safety that may be used as guidelines for the development of the course.”
NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide said: “While we need to see what sort of guidelines the state Board of Education sets, it’s encouraging to see Illinois agree to provide courses that teach the safe and responsible use of firearms. Hopefully, this will serve as a roadmap for other states that fail to provide such valuable lessons to our youth.”
Illinois is not the first state to add hunter education to its school’s curriculum. Iowa already passed similar legislation and is implementing mandatory hunter education in two counties. North Dakota also is implementing it in six schools in conjunction with PE.
This is a step in the right direction and hopefully, more states will follow Illinois lead and pass similar legislation.