PEORIA, Ill. — School districts in Illinois can now teach hunter education and safety as a class.
Governor Pritzker signed a bill on Friday which will make resources available to develop hunting curriculum.
HB 3462 was passed with overwhelming support in both the House and Senate before being signed.
Now, each school district can choose to offer courses.
“I think when you learn to respect it, and what they can be used for, instead of being something that can be a disaster, they learn what a gun is used for,” said Cheryl Rolen.
Under the new law, school districts can decide to create a class during the school day or an after-school program.
“It’s important to know, and understand, what a gun is and even gun safety. Not only just to how to handle a gun, but to respect the gun,” said Rolen.
But, recent school shooting have left many fearful.
And teacher, including Joseph Villarreal, believe this course would do more harm than good.
“Guns and schools do not mix. And as a school teacher, I believe that we should not promote anything that is gun related,” said Villarreal.
Cheryl Rolen, also a school teacher, disagrees.
“I think its extremely important, especially for people who come from a town like Bartonville, where there’s a lot of hunters, kids that are hunters. My family, my sons, my husband, they’re all hunters,” said Rolen.
Rolen believes kids can interact with guns, with proper education and training. She says learning things like keeping a gun’s safety on and how to properly hold a gun could prevent accidents.
“My kids grew up with guns in our house, and from being little, tiny kids, they knew you don’t touch that. They knew your friends don’t touch that,” said Rolen.
Villarreal thinks schools shouldn’t be responsible for hunter education.
“As a high school instructor, I believe that hunting is a fine sport, but I do believe it should be in the sportsman clubs,” said Villarreal.
Ultimately, each school district will decide whether to offer courses.