Gov. Nixon signs gun safety bill into law

The legislation comes into effect Aug. 28.

“Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.”

It’s the mantra of Eddie Eagle, the safety mascot of the National Rifle Association. And starting next school year, the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program — a firearm safety course designed for students in kindergarten through third grade — will be taught in participating Missouri school districts.

But the course is only one component of Senate Bill 75, signed into law last week by Gov. Jay Nixon. The bill allows districts to implement the Active Shooter and Intruder Response Training (ASIRT) program and mandates that schools conduct an annual “active shooter and intruder response” drill led by law enforcement officers.

“I have five children in the school system. I’d like to know that the administration has a plan — that the teachers have a plan,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla. “We do fire drills. We do tornado drills. So why don’t we do active shooter drills?”

The ASIRT program will teach district staff how to handle potentially armed and dangerous intruders on campus. Participants, Brown said, will be taught how to organize against and rush a shooter.

“Your first instinct is to run away from the shooter,” Brown said. “But if you react against him, you can save a lot of innocent lives, and potentially your own.”

Brown introduced the bill as a mandate: schools would have not only been allowed, but required to implement both ASIRT and the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program. The bill, however, was amended by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County to offer those programs only as options following backlash from urban Democrats.

The opposition came early on from Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, who said that her constituent schools lacked the funds and resources to introduce either program. Nasheed noted that most of the city’s schools fail to meet the state’s reading and math standards as it is — to bring gun safety into the curriculum, she said, would only worsen that problem.

“Professional development is more important to me,” Nasheed said. “If the district is going to use money, it should be used on that.”

She also recommended that parents, not schools, teach gun safety to students.

“If a parent has a gun in the house, it should be locked up,” Nasheed said. “Teaching that shouldn’t be a state requirement.”

Brown, however, disagreed. “If the courses already in place are supposed to be teaching kids, they’re doing a hell of a bad job,” he said. “Nasheed and Chappelle-Nadal were talking about how their schools don’t have time for gun safety training. My response is that dead kids don’t learn anything.”

SB75 also includes provisions that transfer the authority to issue and manage concealed carry weapons (CCW) permits from the state Department of Revenue to local sheriffs.

That transfer comes on the heels of controversy surrounding the department’s retention of CCW records — a direct violation of Missouri’s 2009 law nullifying the federal REAL ID Act.

“They’re not going to have an excuse to copy your records and keep them on file,” Brown said. “The fact that they gave up that info was quite concerning to a lot of Missourians.”

The REAL ID Act, passed in 2005 as a counterterrorism measure, mandates the consolidation, retention and sharing of state records with the Department of Homeland Security. Missouri joined 23 other states in opposing the legislation when Gov. Nixon signed House Bill 361, which limited the scope of federal records requests.

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