By: Robert Davis
A husband and wife team in Charlotte, North Carolina is teaching children as young as six years old how to handle firearms safely, drawing both support and ire from their local community.
“People fear what they do not know,” Michael Pegram, director of Echo Firearms Training, told Gunpowder Magazine. “But the neighborhood kids wanted me to do a class with them. So I created one based only on safety.”
Pegram and his wife Rachel said that in developing the class, they realized a lot of the toy BB guns and pellet guns on the market resemble their live-round counterparts. That inspired them to begin teaching their students how to shoot safely while using their toy guns.
The four-hour class costs $100 for a single student and is taught on Saturdays. Discounted rates are offered to groups of multiple students. The class teaches students about the parts of a gun, the rules for safe handling of firearms, and includes range time.
Even though their approach is based on firearms safety, the Pegrams admit that other members of their community don’t think the class can benefit their students.
“Children have no business learning about the use of firing guns,” said an anonymous comment the couple received on the company email. “They are children! They need to be playing outside and learning about how to be good people who will never have any use for a gun.”
“Basically, people who disagree are saying what I’m doing by teaching Firearm Safety, I’m actually teaching kids to cause harm or get involved in violence,” Pegram responded. “They are saying the complete opposite of what I’m actually doing.”
One example Pegram offered was of a young teenage girl who was in his class who learned to “hold” his Glock 19 after spending three hours learning the ins and outs of firearm safety by practicing with nerf and BB gun rounds.
“She had fired around 300 rounds of nerf, bb, pellet, and .22,” Pegram said. “When she did actually shoot, my hand was right on top of hers, and my other hand was right on her back. There was only one round in the chamber, and she did great. She really did not need me helping.”
There are plenty of other kids who have performed just as well in the class, Pegram says. But, the class isn’t about just learning how to point and shoot. It’s about learning how safely handle a firearm safely and avoid careless accidents.
“I believe all kids need to attend a class like mine,” Pegram said. “It would take the fantasy about firearms away. A child would be less likely to go looking for their parents’ guns if they use them often. Then, those kids can teach others how to be safe around firearms. Many adults around the world have no idea about firearm safety. The bottom line is: knowledge is power, and someone who believes teaching a child how to shoot safely will more likely make them a school shooter has no idea what they are talking about.”
Photo Courtesy of echotraining.us.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him at RobertDavis0414@gmail.com.