CHEYENNE, Wyo.- "Stop, don't touch, run away and tell a grown up."
Those were the words third grade students at Cheyenne's Buffalo Ridge Elementary School repeated over and over after learning a lesson on gun safety.
Laramie County School District #1 Safe and Drug Free Schools program helps set up the lesson with the Cheyenne Police Department. It's something the school resource officer has taught in mainly 6th grade classes and older, but staff at Buffalo Ridge felt it might be beneficial to students at a younger age.
Third grade teacher at the school, Kevin Myers, said it's the first time he's had the lesson in his class. He said, "As a parent of a third grade student at Buffalo Ridge, and being a parent who doesn't own guns, I did feel that it was an important opportunity to reinforce the idea that guns can be dangerous if not handled properly." He added, "As parents and as families begin the process of teaching their children firearm safety in the home, this is an important first step."
CPD School Resource Officer Joe Johnson is new to teaching the gun safety presentation and said he noticed many of the third grade students were very curious about the topic. He said, "This is Wyoming, we're a gun culture, lots of hunters and firearms enthusiasts here and I think a lot of the kids in Cheyenne, especially, are exposed to that kind of stuff and they get curious about it."
Officer Johnson says they have had instances in the past where they have not only found children bringing bullets to school, but have also had children get seriously injured or killed after playing with a gun. He said, "The main goal, eventually, is for them to understand what guns are, how powerful they can be and the damage they can cause."
It wasn't just the staff and law enforcement who thought the lesson was beneficial either; but students also felt that the lesson prepared them to feel more aware and comfortable in a situation where they might encounter a gun. Buffalo Ridge third grade student Brooke Pelletier said she thinks gun safety at her age is important and said, "If you see a gun and if you didn't learn about it, you wouldn't know what to do with it."
Cameron Wallesch, another third grade student at the school, also agreed that the lesson was helpful. He said, "I had a lot of questions. Officer Johnson answered a lot of them, which was really nice." Although he's seen a gun, Cameron says he's never used one. He added, "If I do find a gun somewhere, I'll know what to do now."