The National Rifle Association wants schoolchildren to learn their "three R's": reading, writing, and rifle-shooting.
In a new video titled "Everyone Gets a Gun," NRA commentator Billy Johnson makes the case that everyone — children included — should be required to handle firearms. "What if, instead of gun-free zones, we had gun-required zones?" Johnson asks. "Gun policy driven by our need for guns would insist that we introduce young people to guns early."
Under this system, children would study gun use in school — "just like we teach them reading and writing, necessary skills," Johnson says. "It wouldn't matter if they didn't want to learn. We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade."
The immediate concern with arming America's nearly 50 million school-age children is obvious. Since the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012, American schools have seen 74 shootings, approximately one per school week. This rash of violence occurred despite federal laws that prohibited gun sales to anyone under 18. A 2002 study out of Cornell University found that children exposed to gun violence experience both short- and long-term psychological effects, including anger, withdrawal, post traumatic stress, and desensitization to violence. "All of these outcomes can feed into a continuing cycle of violence," the study concludes.
According to Johnson, however, guns should not only be available to everyone, but be subsidized by the government. "Perhaps we would have government ranges, where you can shoot for free," he says, "or a yearly allotment of free ammunition."
He fails to elaborate on the idea, leaving a number of questions unanswered, including whether the "Everyone Gets A Gun" plan would provide free guns for those unable to afford them, and how the NRA's largely conservative base would respond to the proposal, which could be considered a "big government" policy.
"Education, healthcare, food, retirement," he said. "We subsidize the things we value."
The NRA did not respond to a call for comment.