I'm sure the title alone is controversial for lots of people, but I'm being serious. The problem is that their is a realistic need to teach firearms safety and familiarity to children, because guns aren't going anywhere but young people are no longer culturally exposed to firearms during activities that used to be more widespread.
In generations past, guns had many practical everyday uses. Firearms can be used to hunt and slaughter animals. Firearms were omnipresent for home defense, especially before the invention of the modern suburban police force. A large number of the adult population had participated in major wars and armed conflict, and so there was a collective firearms knowledge that was more established, and more regularly passed on to kids.
Without getting into a huge conversation about gun control, my opinion is that those who think gun control is good are short-sighted. The most blatant paradox is that banning guns is mostly targeted at getting them out of the hands of criminals, but criminals are the least likely people to comply with such a controversial law (after all, they're CRIMINALS for a reason). While the security afforded us by modern police is to be commended, the reality is that they can't be everywhere at once, and being able to defend yourself NOW instead of someone else defending you LATER is generally a good thing. But the biggest reason I think guns need to stay, and part of the reason it was added as a constitutional right, is that it keeps the power of the government with the people, in a very scary yet powerfully necessary way. When things are good, there is no need for guns, but when things are bad, the need is immeasurable. Being so blinded by the lack of need now, that you can't see any need, is unfortunate.
Modern society has thankfully reduced the everyday need for guns. Most people will go their whole lives without seeing an animal slaughtered, without needing to defend themselves, and without ever shooting a gun. Many other people will own guns because, lets face it, they're fun and cool. (I think that's a generally acceptable statement. If a majority of people didn't like them, we wouldn't have them, and so many wouldn't be sold. It's reality.) Another portion of the population will have more formal training with firearms, and a more comfortable familiarity with them, via military service, law enforcement duty, or civilian training (including intra-family training). The issue is that there are a lot of people that fall into the first two categories. They have little or no training with guns, and yet they may even own them. On top of not having any safety training, they lack the everyday comfort and confidence with firearms that many people used to have, but now only falls to that third, and smallest, category of people.
People want to go round and round about whether we should or should not have gun control. The simple fact is that the debate won't be over anytime soon... maybe decades, maybe never. So we need to wake up, and come up with solutions to the problem we have today... that people have tremendous access to guns that they do not know how to safely handle or use. On top of that, the lack of familiarity with guns just makes them even more mysterious and intriguing, especially to children (who are only at even worse risk of making poor safety decisions).
My solution is to start giving kids formal firearms training, starting in elementary school. The courses should start simply as familiarization and safety. Teach kids what guns are, how they work, and how to handle them safely. As kids get older, like middle school age, they should continue with more advanced courses, including basic marksmanship with pistols and rifles. It sounds a little counterintuitive that to make people safer you need to make them more dangerous, but it makes sense. It will help give kids real information to work with, instead of ignoring the problem like we do now. They will know what a gun is, and how to deal with it safely, should they encounter one in a situation without responsible adults present. It will help deescalate guns from their mysterious status, and reduce the irrational "cool factor". And for those that argue teaching people how to use guns safely will only fuel criminals, I again remind them that they are CRIMINALS and were going to commit their crimes anyways. The situations and circumstances that brought them to their crimes probably don't include gun safety instruction.
I understand that learning regimens that kids must traverse are already stressed, in time and money. Firearms safety training doesn't need to be a lot. It just needs to consistent and reinforced often to keep it fresh. Maybe one day per year have a police officer come teach the class... every year. For teenagers, add it as a week-long phys-ed sport, instead of floor hockey or dodgeballl for the 3rd time. A box of 500 bullets for a .22LR costs about $20, which should be reasonable for most people to pay as a "lab fee". Or use pellet rifles, even. There can surely be a way to make it work.
This is a smart move, to bring a solution to a realistic problem that is currently being ignored. It's not a problem that is going to go away by being ignored either. It can even have some unintended positive consequences, like the probably creation of public shooting ranges in the area. People need to catch up with the reality that guns exist, are here to stay, that many people are currently unsafe with firearms, and that the only way to improve safety is training.