WASHINGTON â€” The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is seizing on next weekâ€™s student walkouts as a teachable moment. Theyâ€™re even offering a school curriculum for it.
The gun-control group’sÂ 10-page guide is written to help school officials address gun violence as students across the country plan to participate in protests on Wednesday, the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Brady co-presidents Avery Gardiner and Kris Brown describe the guide as â€œneutral and nonpartisanâ€ in a letter to principals, teachers or school administrators, noting that it proposes no particular policy solutions.
National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, when shown the curriculum, called it a â€œpolitical white paper on gun controlâ€ that he said does nothing to keep students safe. By contrast, he said the NRAâ€™s National School Shield program recommends safety measures for schools â€œto help save lives.â€
But Brown said the guide provides factual information on gun violence that is of interest to students. The curriculum includes information on gun deaths, polling on attitudes toward guns, background on gun laws and the Second Amendment and policy initiatives under consideration. It also offers discussion questions and activities.
â€œIâ€™m sorry if the NRA has trouble with the fact that the United States has 36,000 dying in America from gun violence but those are the facts,â€ Brown said in an interview. â€œAnd I think students are in a very good position to decide what they think should be done based on those facts.â€
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The walkouts, organized with help from a â€œyouth empowermentâ€ arm of the Womenâ€™s March, will last 17 minutes to memorialize the 17 lives lost in Florida and to protest congressional inaction on gun legislation. Marches are planned across the country on March 24, while a second school walkout is planned for April 20 to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
The Brady Campaign assembled the guide at the request of the Womenâ€™s March, which distributed it to participating schools across the country. Brown said she didnâ€™t know how many will use the curriculum.
Some schools on Wednesday are doing an actual walkout, some an assembly and others a â€œteach-in,â€ Brown said.
â€œThis allows the teachers to have something if they want a toolkit for classroom discussions,â€ she said. â€œMany kids are asking question about gun violence in America so this gives them some facts.â€
The Brady Campaign isÂ named afterÂ James Brady, who was permanently disabled during the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981. The non-profit advocates for gun-control measures, including an expansion of background checks for all gun purchases and a ban on “assault weapons.”Â
Itâ€™s unclear whether itâ€™s common for advocacy organizations to distribute curriculum to public schools. The American Federation of Teachers offers its own curriculum on gun violence, through its â€œShare my Lessonâ€ program.
The Brady Campaign guide is built around a 40-minute classroom discussion, either in a high school or middle school history or civics class, Gardiner and Brown wrote, suggesting some teachers may want to use the guide as a handout or as the foundation for a school-wide assembly. Â They also suggest organizing an in-school debate or assigning related homework assignments, such as an essay on student protests or the history of gun use in America.
â€œThis backgrounder is intended to support your classroom discussions about gun violence prevention and to encourage studentsâ€™ thinking and debate on the issue,â€ the co-presidents write.