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Gun avoidance class gains popularity, teaches kids

The Eddie Eagle GunSafe program will be held Dec. 16


Arvada parent Josiane Broussard was nervous for her three-year-old daughter to take the Eddie Eagle GunSafe class because guns are not part of their family — they are out of her comfort zone.

But with the possibility of her daughter visiting other people’s homes and the steady stream of accidental shootings by youths, Broussard thought it was good to introduce some avoidance training with her daughter.

“The hard part for me was the fact that she, at 3-years-old has to learn about this,” Broussard said. “But I know it’s safer for her to know what it is. It’s important that she would know to never touch it if she found one at someones house, at school, or on the playground.”

The Eddie Eagle GunSafe program is a gun accident prevention program developed by a task force made up of educators, school administrators, curriculum specialists, urban housing safety officials, clinical psychologists, law enforcement officials and National Rifle Association firearm safety experts. It began in 1988 with one mission: teach children four simple, easy to remember steps so they know what to do if they ever come across a gun.

In 2015 the NRA introduced a fresh, new Eddie and added some friends — his Wing Team. Though Eddie has evolved, his mission has not. In the brand new video, Eddie and his friends remind children that if they see a gun, they need to Stop! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grown-up.

“The program teaches kids that guns a are dangerous and what they should do if they come upon a gun,” said Dwayne Nelson owner of WDN Firearms Training LLC and Eddie Eagle instructor. “We love and care about our kids that’s why we teach them not to run in a street or put hand on hot stove, but we seem to lack the enthusiasm of training them in the real world that has guns out there.”

Nelson teaches the gun avoidance class geared to youths under the age of 12 every couple months at the Arvada Library with co-instructor Harley McKinney and Aaron Torres, owner of Mtn. Range Armory in Arvada.

The class is free for parents and children to attend and all supplies and training are provided by the NRA. It is held at the library because of the familiarity that it brings to people and because the NRA discourages holding the class at a gun shop.

“You mention the NRA and people have opinions,” Nelson said. “But they don’t want Eddie Eagle to become political because it’s not about that, this is about the kids. Think what you will about the NRA, the bottom line is they’re saving kids’ lives with this program. You can’t let prejudices interfere because this is a gun avoidance program for children.”

Nelson said that the reality is many children have already been trained to pick up a gun, point it and pull the trigger because of what they have seen on TV and in movies and video games. His hope is that this program can retrain children to be respectful and weary of guns that are left out or that are found.

“You hear about kids shooting others accidentally and it’s so sad,” Torres said. “That’s what we’re trying to avoid. When that happens, it doesn’t just affect that family, it affects the whole community.”

For Westminster resident Jason Woelfel the Eddie Eagle class was something that his eight-year-old son, Victor, really got into.

“He has always had an interest in firearms — not sure where he got it from,” Woelfel said of his son. “He used to make guns out of Legos and pose like an action hero.”

Woelfel said that while they’ve always talked about safety, the way it was presented through the Eddie Eagle program, it really go his son listening and repeating back the safety protocols.

“I wanted to make with the safety concerns of the world today, that we went above and beyond to prevent accidents,” Woelfel said. “It’s good to know that he doesn’t need dad to be sitting there watching over him.”


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