Public schools across Maryland would have to teach gun safety courses to students from kindergarten through 12th grade, under legislation that passed the General Assembly April 9.
Gov. Parris Glendening, who supports the idea of teaching children the dangers of firearms, is expected to sign the measure into law.
There was no discussion in the Senate as the bill passed on a 36-to-10 roll call.
Gun safety legislation had the support of influential leaders such as House Speaker Casper Taylor, D-Allegany, and Sen. Barbara Hoffman, D-Baltimore, chairwoman of the Budget and Taxation Committee.
It also was backed by some conservative Republican lawmakers, such as Delegate Carmen Amedori, R-Carroll.
Despite the support that ranged across the political spectrum, the bill was almost derailed by a dispute between the National Rifle Association and Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse over the content of the courses.
In the end, the two groups agreed that local school systems would determine the content and that they could draw on courses developed by the NRA and by national gun safety groups.
Representatives of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse said at the time that the NRA was trying to dictate curriculum. NRA officials countered that the gun group wanted to use schools to teach that guns are bad.
Taylor said a compromise was made possible “when MAHA agreed to the House’s pro-gun position.”
The move to require gun safety education was given added impetus by the 1998 death of a 13-year-old Carroll County boy, John Price, who was accidentally shot by a 9-year-old neighbor.
The boy’s parents, John and Carole Price, devoted a great deal of time over the last year to secure passage of a bill.
The Senate bill was named for the boy when it was introduced, but his name was removed in the House, and Senate sponsors agreed to go with the House version to make sure the bill passed.