Contributed article by the Illinois House Republicans.
House Bill 3462, which was sponsored by State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond), was recently signed into law. This measure aims to improve hunting and gun safety for students by allowing school districts to offer hunter safety courses in their daily curriculum or as part of an after school activity.
“There are many students in our area and across the state who have an interest in hunting. Through a hunter safety course, students learn more than just necessary skills and knowledge for hunting – they learn about critical thinking, responsibility, respect for safety, and about our natural resources and conservation. It makes sense that school districts should be able to offer this kind of creative curriculum,” Rep. Bourne said.
In Illinois there is no minimum age for obtaining a hunting license, but a standardized hunting education course is required through the Department of Natural Resources in order to purchase one. Hunting education courses typically cover a wide range of issues including responsibility and ethics, first aid, ordinances involved with hunting, wildlife conservation, and bowhunting. Neither guns nor ammunition will be allowed in the schools, but students will be able to learn about firearms safety and the laws governing ownership and transportation. The Illinois Board of Education can “prepare and make available to school boards resources on hunting safety that may be used as guidelines for the development of the course.”
“These classes are an important opportunity for students to be exposed to the proper handling of firearms and important safety measures,” Rep. Bourne continued. “Early exposure like this means that students are more likely to respect and responsibly handle firearms for the rest of their lives.”
Illinois joins Alaska, South Carolina, and Iowa in allowing schools to offer hunting education classes. HB 3462 is effective immediately, although whether a school implements such programming is left to each school district’s discretion.