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South Carolina Bill Requires Schools to Teach NRA-Approved Second Amendment Curriculum

A father teaches his young son how to shoot a rifle. (Torrey Wiley)

A father teaches his young son how to shoot a rifle. (Torrey Wiley)

South Carolina state legislators have proposed a bill that would force the state’s public schools to spend more time teaching National Rifle Association-approved pro-gun material than some high schools spend teaching about the Civil War or World War II.

The bill, H.3023, the “Second Amendment Education Act 2015,” is being co-sponsored by state Reps. Alan Clemmons (R-Horry), Richard Yow (R-Chesterfied) and Garry Smith (R-Greenville). If passed into law, it would designate December 15 as “Second Amendment Awareness Day” and require all state public schools to “conduct poster or essay contests with related themes.”

The most important part of the bill would require “all public elementary schools, middle schools and high schools [to] provide instruction in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution for at least three consecutive weeks in one grading period in each academic year.”

This coursework may be used to partially satisfy teaching requirements for the US Constitution, and would be required for students to graduate from high school.

One of the most controversial provisions in the bill requires the state superintendent of education to “adopt a curriculum for teaching the Second Amendment that has been developed or recommended by the National Rifle Association.”

Critics cite additional text in the proposed bill as proof that the measure is politically motivated:

Whereas, the right to bear arms has been increasingly and unjustly made the target of criticism when acts of violence involving gun use occur, rather than focusing on the underlying causes that led to the violent act; and

Whereas, one result of hostility toward the second amendment has been an absolute intolerance for any discussion of guns or depiction of guns in writing or in assignments in public schools, which is an affront to First Amendment rights and harshly inhibits creative expression and academic freedom.

ThinkProgress analyzed numerous high school advanced placement United States history syllabi and found that the three weeks of pro-gun education required under the proposed legislation was longer than some schools spend teaching some of the most seminal historic events, like slavery, the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II.

Furthermore, the South Carolina bill would require the NRA-designed or -approved material to be taught at the primary, intermediate and secondary levels.

Republicans in numerous states have attempted to pass legislation mandating gun education for children as young as six years old. In 2013, Missouri state Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) introduced a bill that would use NRA-produced cartoons to teach first-graders about gun safety. Similar measures have been introduced in Texas and Maine.

Gun control advocates counter that the best way to protect children from harm caused by firearms is to not have guns. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 86 percent of child firearm-related deaths occur at home. Statistics show a higher rate of both homicide and suicide in homes with guns.

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