Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening vetoed a bill that would have required gun safety classes in the state’s public schools because he objected to a provision allowing educators to take students to gun ranges.
The bill would have made Maryland the first state to require such instruction from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The governor said he would have signed the bill without the gun range provision and another that would have let teachers work with organizations such as the National Rifle Association to develop the courses.
“I support efforts to create responsible gun-safety programs in our schools,” Glendening said. “However, this bill would create a clear appearance of the state encouraging young people to handle weapons and potentially furthering their interest in a time when we are trying to fight the scourge of gun violence.”
The bill raises “the specter of the National Rifle Association taking busloads of 13-year-old boys and girls off to a firing range for a day of shooting,” the governor added.
The NRA did not immediately return calls for comment.
The bill was approved by a wide margin in the General Assembly, with support that crossed political and ideological lines.
Many teachers, however, had objected to the cost and the shooting range provision. Educators have been among the strongest political supporters of Glendening, a former college professor.