The Coeur d'Alene school board may require elementary school children to participate in a gun-safety program produced by the National Rifle Association.
The Eddie Eagle program was presented to the board last week by former magistrate Virginia Balser, the NRA member responsible for promoting gun safety in the region."I've concentrated strictly on the Couer d'Alene district," she said. "I felt that if I get them, then the others would get on board."
Gun accidents have killed at least three area children in the past five years. In 1990, a 13-year-old Post Falls boy accidentally shot and killed his 8-year-old sister with a .45-caliber pistol. A few months later, a 3-year-old Coeur d'Alene boy accidentally killed his 2-year-old sister with his father's .44-caliber handgun. And in 1991 a 10-year-old died in an accidental shooting in Post Falls.
From 1987 to 1992, 28 Idaho children ages 1 to 14 died from accidental gunshot wounds, according to a study by the state Department of Health and Welfare.
Some north Idaho schools already use the Eddie Eagle program, and the Couer d'Alene School Board is considering making it mandatory for elementary pupils. The program tells children that if they find a gun they should: "Stop. Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult." It includes an animated video set to music, as well as gun-safety workbooks for each elementary grade.
The program is supported by the Couer d'Alene Police Department and the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.