NRA-backed bill moves forward two weeks after Olathe East shooting

Gun News

TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Just two weeks after a school shooting in Olathe, Kansas lawmakers are advancing a bill that would establish an NRA gun safety training program in schools.

Lawmakers in the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee approved the bill on Friday, with Republicans voting in favor of the plan. Sen. Rob Olson, a Republican from Olathe who chairs the committee, said he’s hoping it will help teach kids safety measures, especially at a young age.

“It’s a good bill… It teaches younger individuals gun safety and what to do if there’s a gun there… go tell someone…go tell an adult,” Olson said.

Senate Bill 522, would require the State Board of Education to establish guidelines for a standardized firearm safety education program, which includes accident prevention.

For students in kindergarten and grades one through five, the curriculum would be based on the “Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program” offered by the National Rifle Association. Grades six through eight would also have that program option, or a hunting program offered to high school students through the Department of Wildlife and Parks.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor for debate. However, some lawmakers aren’t backing the move. Sen. Cindy Holscher, a democrat from Overland Park, whose son was there during the time of the shooting, told Kansas Capitol Bureau that it’s not the time to advance bills backed by the NRA.

“It seems a bit tone deaf to be moving forward with legislation that is backed by the NRA in light of what just happened,” Holscher said.

Holscher said she has “horrifying” memories from that day, as she waited to get word that her son was okay, after a student reportedly opened fire at Olathe East High School on March 4. The gunman reportedly fired at a school resource officer five times before the officer shot back. An assistant principal that intervened was also wounded.

According to the Johnson County District Attorney, the shooter used a “ghost gun,” an untraceable firearm that’s usually assembled by the user. It’s what inspired Holscher to sponsor new legislation to outlaw ghost guns in the state. However, there’s been no movement on the bill yet. In an interview Tuesday, Olson said he’s not sure if he’d support the measure.

“The perpetrator violated a few laws to do what he did,” Olson said. “Another restriction’s not going to stop him. I mean, it was posted on the front door of the school not to carry firearms into the school, and he did it anyways.” 

Meanwhile, the gun safety training proposal could soon be up for debate. While hearings on the bill were postponed until last week due to the shooting, Holscher said she’s heard from more people since the hearing that don’t support the measure. She also believes there are other options for lawmakers to consider.

“I have received testimony from more people saying ‘please, stop this bill… this is not the time to have this conversation.’” Holscher said. “There are plenty of other suggestions out there…storage of firearms… making sure that they’re not accessible to children.”

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