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Special Report: Nonprofit teaching children gun safety

The Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation aims to protect families and children through firearm safety education with hands-on experience developing safe practices on and off the range.

Posted: Jul 3, 2019 11:11 AM
Updated: May 3, 2021 12:19 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Kids and guns: two words that are usually connected with tragedy, but for Derek LeBlanc, the two go hand in hand, all in the name of safety.

LeBlanc is president of the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at helping protect families and children through firearm safety education with hands-on experience developing safe practices on and off the range.

“We teach our kids how to swim because we don’t want them to drown, so this is the same concept,” LeBlanc said.

According to the Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance -- a coalition of physicians, law enforcement and others -- there were 67 reported cases in the U.S. involving children who accidentally shot themselves or another child. And that’s just so far this year.

Back in April in California, two cousins were playing in a vehicle when they found a gun. One shot the other thinking it was unloaded.
Another case back in March happened when a 3-year-old picked up a gun in his home, shooting himself when it fired.

And our area has experienced heartbreak too. Back in November 2018, a juvenile accidentally died in a gun incident near Harrisburg.

RELATED: ELEMENTARY STUDENT DIES IN HARRISBURG

The first lesson in LeBlanc’s class is what to do if you see a firearm.

“Stop, don’t touch, run away, tell a grown up,” LeBlanc said. “We are not advocating to pick it up. Get out of the situation.”

The National Crime Prevention Council says 1.4 million homes have firearms stored in a way that makes them accessible to 2.6 million children, but even if you don’t have a firearm in your home, your child could come across one somewhere else.

“They could be at a friend’s house or somewhere where a gun is available and they may be unfamiliar,” said Jeff Blonde with the Eugene Police Department’s Crime Prevention Department.

Most of the cases seen on the Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance page involved the child being at home, but that isn’t always the case.

“In this climate, I think the opportunity for him to run into one has increased,” said Jennifer Grotte, a mother and participant of a Kids S.A.F.E. class.

The statistics were troubling enough to get the attention of Oregon lawmakers.

LeBlanc helped introduce Senate Bill 801, which would have authorized school districts and public charter schools to offer and annual 30-minute firearm safety and accident prevention class to first-grade students.

“It was all about education, safety; it was not about pushing guns on kids,” LeBlanc said. “It was about giving them the tools to be successful if they were ever in that position.”

The bill didn’t make it very far, but LeBlanc said he’s gearing up for the next legislative session.

Kurt Goldenstein, a high school teacher of more than 30 years, said he wouldn’t mind teaching his high school students about gun safety but was uncertain when it came to younger children.

“I don’t think people understand how much time and effort schools go through just to prepare for shooters so children can be aware of them, but if kids should know how to use a gun should fall back on parents, family, and fall back to hunter safety courses,” he said.

Through Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation, thousands of kids have now learned basic safety rules and gun safety, helping lower accidental deaths with firearms involving children.

To learn more about the nonprofit, click here.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 193732

Reported Deaths: 2572
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah38352591
Washington25592233
Marion22026306
Clackamas17440214
Lane13007148
Jackson10862139
Deschutes896274
Umatilla820284
Linn492969
Yamhill446376
Klamath441164
Polk375752
Malheur351863
Josephine334570
Douglas327271
Benton310019
Jefferson219837
Coos206633
Columbia174427
Union144823
Lincoln137921
Wasco137728
Hood River118730
Crook111322
Morrow110716
Clatsop9858
Baker95414
Tillamook6493
Curry6469
Grant5095
Lake4517
Harney3448
Wallowa1845
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3764405

Reported Deaths: 62573
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123645624067
Riverside2994554594
San Bernardino2967824715
San Diego2785913729
Orange2709835026
Santa Clara1190642096
Kern1091771374
Sacramento1048401686
Fresno1018381688
Alameda879401657
Ventura810011013
San Joaquin732201391
Contra Costa68741805
Stanislaus621421061
Tulare49654839
Monterey43613383
San Mateo42038568
San Francisco36720544
Santa Barbara34337456
Solano32953252
Merced31898460
Sonoma30035320
Imperial28443726
Kings22989246
Placer22679292
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16462242
Santa Cruz16264207
Marin14056227
Yolo13910210
Shasta12152226
Butte12026199
El Dorado10168112
Napa987082
Sutter9433112
Yuba626847
San Benito606563
Lassen570624
Tehama557262
Nevada474275
Tuolumne413166
Mendocino410149
Humboldt404641
Amador365847
Lake347643
Glenn239125
Colusa223416
Siskiyou223424
Calaveras212954
Inyo142838
Del Norte13938
Mono12844
Plumas7106
Modoc4994
Mariposa4487
Trinity4005
Sierra1120
Alpine880
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