NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, launched in 1988, recently reached the 30 millionth child with its groundbreaking gun-accident-prevention message. “If you see a gun: Stop! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grown-up,” is the lesson the youths from pre-K through fourth grade learn, and it’s working.
When former NRA President Marion P. Hammer started the effort, the Centers for Disease Control estimated there were 288 children—0 to 14 years old—killed in firearm accidents. By 2014, that figure was down to 50. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, incidental firearm-related deaths in youths in the targeted age group declined more than 80 percent since Eddie Eagle flew into his first classroom.
The program’s approach was tailored to reach all students, even those whose parents are not firearm enthusiasts, with the help child psychologists, law enforcement officers and school teachers. Dr. Lisa Monroe—an early child curriculum specialist at the University of Oklahoma—created the instructor guides and firmly believes it makes a difference. “I would say to a superintendent or school administrator that this program is absolutely appropriate for their schools and their children, because it’s about safety,” Dr. Monroe says in this video.
More than 26,000 educators, law enforcement personnel, members of civic organizations and NRA members have taught the program since its inception. The NRA Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program is funded by private donors and Friends of NRA volunteers who raise money for the educational materials.
The program’s effectiveness has been praised by 26 state governors, as well as the Association of American Educators, the Youth Activities Division of the National Safety Council, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the U.S. Department of Justice (through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency). Law enforcement agencies continue to partner with Eddie Eagle and almost 400 Eddie Eagle mascot costumes are in use by them across the county. Free Eddie Eagle materials are also available to any law enforcement agency, educational facility, hospital or library in the United States.