School gun clubs promote discipline, not violence

Published 2:15 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Recent shootings at high schools in Kentucky and Florida were tragedies. Make no mistake about it.

After the shooting that killed 17 people at Parkland High School in Florida in February, students began protests calling for a ban on long rifles such as the AR-15, the type of weapon the killer used at the school. These students have taken their protest all across the country, and they have every right under the First Amendment to do so. But at the end of the day, those who died at Parkland were killed by a twisted murderer who happened to own this type of weapon, which was bought legally.

We are a pro-Second Amendment newspaper, and we don’t believe that amendment should ever be infringed upon. We have editorialized that we don’t believe that the AR-15 weapon should be banned, and that if a person is old enough to go into the military at 18, then they should be able to buy a long rifle such as an AR-15 as long as the proper background checks are done.

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While so much attention has been given to trying to ban and restrict gun ownership, it is a breath of fresh air to see that many teenagers across the country are learning positive things about guns through their school gun clubs. There are an estimated 5,000 teams at high schools and universities around the country. Students at high schools and colleges gather not only to shoot, but to talk about the positive influence firearms have on their lives. Students at these gun clubs say they are taught “Patience. Discipline. Responsibility.”

Despite reports that the Parkland shooter had been a member of the JROTC rifle team, such clubs’ popularity hasn’t waned. The involved youths, coaches and parents say there’s an enormous difference between someone bent on violence and school gun clubs that focus on safety and teach skills that make navigating life’s hardships easier.

The clubs use a variety of firearms – from air rifles that shoot pellets to 9 mm pistols that fire bullets. Its members invest hundreds of dollars in specialized stiff uniforms and shoes that provide stability and support for spending hours standing, kneeling or lying prone to fire at targets down range. Some have hopes of representing the U.S. in the Olympics. Some simply love the camaraderie and mental focus required.

A coach affiliated with USA shootings, JP O’Connor, put it best when he talked about these clubs.

“So many people have assumed – and I picked that word on purpose – that guns are bad,” O’Connor told The Associated Press. “Some people are, ‘I can’t believe you’re teaching kids to shoot.’ Well, I’m not teaching kids to shoot. I’m teaching kids life skills. And I’m teaching them about a topic that is very contentious … and when we educate people about something and they’re not ignorant about it, then we’re actually safer.”

O’Connor is exactly right. These types of clubs actually teach students gun safety, how to handle and fire a gun and, perhaps most importantly, how to respect a gun. This type of club also helps establish leadership skills in young adults.

At a time when so many people are trying to chip away at our Second Amendment and the thousands upon thousands of citizens who respect and abide by this amendment, it is nice to see clubs that teach young people about guns and teach them respect and discipline, not violence as some have inferred.

The Daily News of Bowling Green