Most Wisconsin high schools don’t teach students how to drive cars anymore because of limited time and money.
Yet some Republican lawmakers think today’s schools have the resources and need to start teaching teenagers how to handle and shoot guns.
That shouldn’t be a priority, given strict limits on how much school districts can spend, and given the need for more advanced learning. Gun classes also would risk harm to students and staff by undermining zero-tolerance policies forbidding weapons on school property.
The full Legislature should quickly discard this unwise proposal by Rep. Ken Skowronski, R-Franklin, and Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls.
Let the state Department of Natural Resources and hunting groups teach young people how to use firearms, as they ably have done for decades away from school settings. The priority for high schools should be math, science, reading and other academic subjects — not the promotion of hobbies involving deadly weapons.
Hunting and target shooting are fine activities outside of school, especially in Wisconsin, where deer hunting season enjoys a long and celebrated history.
But public schools have strict policies against guns because of deadly school shootings around the country. Offering a Firearms 101 class would undermine that concern by blurring the line on whether or not handguns and other weapons are allowed in schools.
Teaching gun safety in schools also would take up valuable time during the school day when students need to learn more marketable skills to succeed after graduation in a competitive job market focused on knowledge and technology.
The only people who should be allowed to carry guns at school are trained police officers.
The Republican lawmakers pushing for gun safety classes in schools say greater interest in trap shooting among Wisconsin teenagers prompted them to act. Well, teenagers are interested in lots of activities. That doesn’t mean those pastimes should be part of school curriculums, earning credits toward graduation.
No ammunition would be allowed in schools, the authors of the bill say, though multiple types of firearms would be covered, including handguns. Nor would local school boards be forced to offer gun classes if they didn’t want them, they say.
But Skowronski and Moulton’s bill would require the state Department of Public Instruction to develop a gun curriculum using resources better spent on academics.
The bill is one of several troubling proposals involving guns this year in the Legislature. Another bill would let citizens with state permits carry concealed handguns on school grounds. That idea should be defeated, too.
Less than 30 percent of school districts in Wisconsin offer driver’s education classes for credit, according to DPI. If most schools don’t teach students the basic skill of how to drive, they definitely should not be in the business of promoting guns in the classroom.