Michael Pegram*, a North Carolina man who is an experienced firearms instructor, noticed there were no classes to teach children firearm safety — so he decided to create his own.
“There was no other class like this,” Pegram, who founded Echo Firearm Training, told WBTV. “So, I decided to come up with it.”
Pegram’s organization now offers classes for children as young as six to learn how to safely operate and handle firearms. North Carolina is a concealed carry state, and many children grow up in homes with parents who own guns, so it makes sense to take the time to teach them respect for such tools.
“It’s the parents’ choice of what their kids should be around,” Pegram said. “I’m just offering a class to let them learn to be safe, if they’re going to be around them.”
Pegram’s class for children takes about four hours and includes classroom teaching and time shooting. Children use a Nerf gun for the class, but children who Pegram feel are responsible enough are allowed to shoot a .22 or a nine-millimeter, under his supervision.
“A lot of times they’re not shooting a nine-millimeter,” Pegram told WBTV. “But once in a blue moon, if they know what they’re doing, and I know they can do it, we have done that.”
WBTV interviewed parents about the class earlier this week. At first, the parents seemed concerned about children so young being around firearms but acknowledged that the class might not be a bad idea for older children.
“My daughter’s five years old,” one parent, Bryan Moore, told the outlet. “And thinking of her shooting a gun, it’s kind of crazy.”
Rebekah Biercz told WBTV the class seemed “like a bad idea.” Biercz softened her view when it came to older kids, however.
“If we’re going to have guns in this country, one of the things we need is really strict training classes,” she said.
“On one hand, maybe it’s good to teach gun safety,” Moore added. “But then on the other hand, that would be my one concern, is it would make kids comfortable handling guns, and could lead to more accidents, possibly.”
Another father, Patrick Young, told WBTV that keeping guns away from kids would make it likely they would “want to mess with it.”
WBTV spoke to nine-year-old Aiden Roberts, who had taken Pegram’s class.
“If you see a gun tell your parents,” he told the outlet. “Never point a gun at people.”
While a headline may make the class seem like a bad idea, Pegram is not some random person off the street teaching kids. He has more than 30 years of firearms experience, is an NRA-certified handgun instructor and range safety officer, has a concealed carry permit, and is also a concealed carry permit instructor. Further, according to his bio, he has 24 hours of South Carolina Law Enforcement Department (SLED) training. His company, Echo, offers a range of courses for adults, including basic safety and defense courses. He also has a class for teachers on how to respond to an active shooter.
*Neither Pegram nor any of his students are pictured above.