I commend the law enforcement officers and students who participate in the "Shoot, Don't Shoot" program and urge Davis County officials to continue the program. While I'm unfamiliar with the specifics of the program, the concept is sound.
Given the current hysteria about guns and school shootings and the prominent role firearms play in TV, movies and video games, it is understandable that our young people are fascinated by firearms, and all the more so when misguided adults turn firearms into "forbidden fruit."
While firearms-related deaths have declined dramatically in recent years, this fascination can lead youths to handle firearms without proper training and adult supervision. This, in turn, can lead to tragic accidents.
Law enforcement officers are able to teach students about the safe handling of firearms and the dangers of carelessness and misuse. And they are in a unique position to educate students about the awesome responsibility involved in the decision to use potentially lethal force to stop a crime.
A Department of Justice study shows that juveniles who are taught about firearms by a responsible adult have no incidence of violent criminal behavior. Rather than a "public health menace," instruction on responsible firearms handling appears to "immunize" young people against firearms misuse.
Our students learn many adult skills in school to prepare them for the responsibilities of adulthood, skills such as parenting, financial management, and voting. Why not responsible firearms handling and decision making?
Officer Christensen is correct. Perhaps the most important lesson we can teach our children is that "they . . . are responsible for their actions."
Sarah Thompson, M.D.
Utah Gun Owners Alliance