Tennessee bill to require age-appropriate gun training in schools goes to governor’s desk

By Vivian Jones – Nashville Tennessean

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, during a Senate session at the Tennessee state Capitol in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, March 18, 2024.

A bill to require public schools in Tennessee to teach children age-appropriate firearms safety concepts as early as pre-kindergarten is going to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk after a final Senate vote Thursday.

Members of the Tennessee Senate passed House Bill 2882 in a party-line vote of 24 to 3 on Thursday morning. It passed the House of Representatives in February.

If signed, school children would be taught “age-appropriate and grade-appropriate” concepts about guns beginning in the 2025-26 school year. Proponents of the safety concepts training have likened it to mandatory school fire drills.

“This curriculum would be developed to instruct children on how to properly stay away from a firearm if they happen to see a firearm, and what to do as far as reporting if they find a firearm,” said Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta.

Republicans voted down an amendment Thursday that would have allowed parents to opt their children out of the instruction.

Training would be conducted through viewing of videos and online content. Live ammunition, live fire and live firearms would be prohibited. The bill does not specifically prohibit non-functional model weapons.

Parameters for the curriculum, and appropriate ages for it to be taught, would be determined by the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Schools would be required to provide instruction on:

  • Safe storage of firearms.
  • Safety relating to firearms.
  • How to avoid injury if a student finds a firearm.
  • Never to touch a found firearm.
  • To immediately notify an adult of the location of a found firearm.

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, argued Thursday that the training requirement represents a hurried effort to address the symptom of a systemic problem, and lawmakers should be doing more to address the root cause.

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, talks to reporters at the State Capitol on March 21, 2024.© Vivian Jones

“Children are already bearing an incredible brunt of the escalation that we’ve seen in gun violence – that is widely reported in our own state government’s data. Data demonstrates that children are increasingly likely to become victims of firearms in homicides, suicides, gun violence, accidental deaths,” Yarbro said. “But rather than deal with the fact that there are firearms that are negligently and recklessly left somewhere by adults, we’re trying to teach children how to deal with that negligence.”

Sen. Charlane Oliver, D-Nashville, argued the state should allow parents to opt their children out of the firearms training.

Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, said the state does not require parental permission or allow parents to opt children out of mandatory school fire drills or active shooter drills. Briggs called the legislation “one of the most important bills we have, that could potentially save lives.”

The bill requires that instruction be “viewpoint neutral on political topics, such as gun rights, gun violence, and the Second Amendment.” School districts could determine what day and time the instruction would occur.

Bailey worked with House sponsor Rep. Chris Todd, R-Madison County – who voted against a bill last year that would have required safe storage concepts to be included in state-approved handgun safety courses. The bill, which became law despite Todd’s opposition, also directed the state to provide free gun locks to Tennessee residents on request and exempted gun safes from sales tax.

The bill now awaits Gov. Lee’s signature.

3 thoughts on “Tennessee bill to require age-appropriate gun training in schools goes to governor’s desk

  1. When I first l saw this headline I thought they were actually going to teach kids how to use and respect a gun. But NO!!!! Wokeism and its fear came gushing in. What a disservice this is to kids, and an injustice making them less safe.


  2. as a kid I was in the CMP (civilian marksmanship program) had a blast ( no pun intended) was taught all the gun safety they could throw at you , it was a very respectable program with full adult involvement I stayed in it and achieved all my awards and at 15 I had completed it and went on to competition shooting , and big game hunting in my state , always had respect for the weapon and its capabilities , hell I had a 30-06 at 15 years old and I knew the responsibilities that came with it .. I taught both my kids the respect for a firearm and the proper handling of such responsibility , both my kids are grown adults and both are well protected and confident in their abilities . Its a dam shame these programs no longer exist , hell we took our guns to school because it was in the gymnasium where we were taught..but obviously this was back in the early 70’s ..now with the government running the indoctrination centers , this can no longer exist

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