By: Robert Davis
Members of Colorado’s House Education Committee narrowly defeated a bill that would have allowed local school districts to reinstate hunter education courses in seventh grade classes.
HB19-1116 was introduced by Rep. Hugh McKean (R-Larimer) and co-sponsored by Rep. Bri Buentello (D-Pueblo). It was defeated by a 7-6 vote.
“This isn’t a bill brought about by some big agenda somewhere,” Buentello said during the meeting. “We want to teach kids about gun safety and conservation. Full stop.”
McKean backed up Buentello’s assertion by reminding the committee that the class is an elective, not a requirement. The curriculum would include teaching children about ethics, wildlife, resource management, CPR, physical exercise, and hunting trip planning.
“If this saves one curious child’s life, it’s worth it,” Rep. James D. Wilson (R-Chaffee) said during the meeting.
“This allows our kids to expand their world,” McKean said. “I can’t think of a time when we don’t allow them that opportunity.”
Other member of the committee recalled their own memories of taking similar classes when they were growing up. A few of them said they couldn’t support this bill at this time, however.
Democrats on the committee contended that the bill is an inappropriate use of public schools. Instead, they said children should join Reserve Officer Training Programs (ROTC) and Rifle Clubs.
“All of these things we’re talking about are a part of Colorado culture,” Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-Adams) said during the meeting. “But, they’re also available in church hunts, community groups, or in the Boy Scouts.”
Michaelson Jenet also argued that urban schools would be forced to teach children curriculum that does not reflect their “culture.”
Buentello described Michaelson Jenet’s argument as “spun-up rhetoric” that points to a hypocritical stance among Democrats who push for restrictive gun legislation. Those who want gun control often talk about the need for enhanced gun safety. Yet, a bill like HB 1116 that focuses on gun safety doesn’t pass.
“I can’t think of a better place to have this discussion about something that’s a part of our heritage than in our schools,” Buentello said.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him with tips or comments at RobertDavis0414@gmail.com or on Twitter @Davisonthebeat.