Three Missoula council members want gun lobby’s safety manual taught in schools
Missoula City Council members will consider going forward with a resolution of support for firearm safety during a Public Safety and Health Committee hearing this week.
The resolution calls for the council to encourage Missoula schools to allow presentations of the Be Safe Curricula by the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) be taught to first to third graders.
It also encourages all interested people to take hunter’s safety and for Missoula residents to “learn and upgrade” their knowledge on safe firearms storage, possession and usage.
MSSA, a conservative pro-gun lobby, has pushed for firearms on college campuses.
“Since I started as a council member, I’ve wanted to make firearm education and safety more accessible,” said primary sponsor Sandra Vasecka, who joined the council in January 2020. “I was talking to some schools about this initially, but then coronavirus hit so that kind of put everything on pause. But with it still not coming to an end, I figured that this would be a good time to do more as a city and back a firearm safety resolution.”
It is the first item sponsored collectively by council members John Contos, Jesse Ramos and Vasecka, who have branded themselves “Team Liberty.”
“This is the first time that we've put something out there, and the item’s not a huge lift. But the reason why we got behind it is because we don't know if it's gonna pass,” Ramos said.
Originally, the resolution was set for discussion on Jan. 13, but due to some council members’ concerns that the resolution was ill-timed with ongoing concerns of potential armed protests, discussion was delayed.
Vasecka defended the original date of the resolution, saying there is never a bad time to discuss firearm safety.
“The reality is that most households have guns in Montana. So your child or your student is going to come in contact with one, one day in their life. So it's best to know the proper way to handle a situation like that,” she said.
The resolution also states that Missoula City Council would urge anyone considering a private sale or purchase of a firearm to consult a guide on private firearm transactions produced by the Montana Shooting Sports Association.
While it is sponsored by conservative council members, Vasecka said she doesn’t believe the resolution is pro-gun or anti-gun.
“It's purely about safety. I'm a hunter and I know people who have accidentally harmed themselves because they have a proper firearm,” she said. “So, it's just one of the things that I want to accomplish on Council, making sure that kids are properly educated with firearms. It’s not related to any recent legislation, it’s just something that’s been on my mind.”
Still, Vasecka expects pushback when it is discussed.
“I think there is going to be some push back. Actually, I kind of guarantee it. But we'll just kind of see what happens,” Vasecka said. “My main goal is to get it out in the open to talk about firearm safety because we often don’t get a chance to talk about it.”