The Eddie Eagle program and its namesake character were developed by the National Rifle Association for children who are generally considered too young to be allowed to handle firearms. While maturity levels vary, the Eddie Eagle program is intended for children of any age from pre-school through third grade. The NRA encourages parents and other adults to reach out to schools and inform them of the availability of the program. The NRA provides all the classroom materials at no cost for schools who take advantage of the training.
The program is administered in schools by trained law enforcement officers with the help of a volunteer. The program trains children to avoid causing harm when they encounter firearms, through an easily remembered litany:
- Stop — This first step is crucial. Stopping first allows your child the time he or she needs to remember the rest of the safety instructions
- Don't touch — A firearm that is not touched or disturbed is unlikely to fire and otherwise endanger your child or other people.
- Run away — This removes the temptation to touch the firearm as well as the danger that another person may negligently cause it to fire.
- Tell an adult — Children should seek a trustworthy adult, neighbor, relative or teacher – if a parent or guardian is not available.
The curriculum includes workbooks and a short video that re-enforces the instructions. The NRA, which also sponsors training for adults in safe gun-handling, developed this program in response to news stories about deaths and injuries of youths by negligent gunfire and released the program in 2003. Anyone can request a sample of the classroom materials at no cost via the Eddie Eagle webpage.
In 1999 the ABC News program 20/20 did a feature on Eddie Eagle which was highly critical of the program. This anecdotal feature stated that it did not work to simply "Tell [very young] kids what to do" and expect them to follow those instructions implicitly.
The producers had a group of schoolchildren (aged 3 to 10 years old) watch the Eddie Eagle video along with a presentation by a police officer on gun safety. While the children all appeared to understand the message that guns are not toys, when the children were left alone with prop guns (and a hidden camera capturing their reactions), they all proceeded to use them as if they were toys.
NRA spokespersons have anecdotal accounts of "saves" made by the program in which children who were in live situations where a gun was found lying around did exactly as the program instructed them to.
In April 2016, Samantha Bee on her show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, in a sketch critical of the NRA's political advocacy, attempted to purchase an Eddie Eagle costume from the NRA but was denied, while also successfully purchasing several firearms.
- "Eddie Eagle School Gun Safety Program".
- "NRA Explore - Eddie Eagle". 2015-05-22. Archived from the original on 2015-05-22.
- "20/20 Show on Gun Safety". ABC News. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
- Himle, MB; Miltenberger, RG; Gatheridge, BJ; Flessner, CA (January 2004). "An evaluation of two procedures for training skills to prevent gun play in children.". Pediatrics. 113 (1 Pt 1): 70–7. PMID 14702451.
- Gatheridge, BJ; Miltenberger, RG; Huneke, DF; Satterlund, MJ; Mattern, AR; Johnson, BM; Flessner, CA (September 2004). "Comparison of two programs to teach firearm injury prevention skills to 6- and 7-year-old children.". Pediatrics. 114 (3): e294–9. doi:10.1542/peds.2003-0635-L. PMID 15342889.
- "NRA Victories: Eighteen Million Safer Kids". National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. July 27, 2006. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
- Blistein, Jon (2016-04-12). "Samantha Bee Slams NRA Regulations in Pursuit of Gun Safety Mascot". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
- "Samantha Bee had an easier time buying a gun arsenal than a costume of the NRA's mascot". Vox. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
- Cooke, Charles (2016-04-12). "Vox and Samantha Bee Ignore Markets in Favor of Gun Propaganda". National Review. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
- Eddie Eagle
- Joe Camel with feathers : how the NRA with gun and tobacco industry dollars uses its Eddie Eagle program to market guns to kids. - a critical look at the program by the Violence Policy Center