At the recent Wilson County Friends of NRA banquet and fundraiser, Mike Webb, Senior Field Representative of the National Rifle Association, cited some poignant examples of how the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program almost certainly saved the lives of several Tennesseans.
In each case, a child came across a loaded gun that had been left unattended by a careless adult. And in every instance, the youngster followed his or her Eddie Eagle training: "If you see a gun, stop! Don't touch! Leave the area! Tell an adult!"
And in each case, a potential tragedy was avoided.
"These are just a few examples across Tennessee, among hundreds of situations that occur all around the country," Webb said. "There is absolutely no question that lives have been saved because of the Eddie Eagle Program. And the program is made possible by Friends of NRA chapters like the one here in Wilson County."
The April 4 banquet/fundraiser raised over $26,000, most of which remains in the community. Earlier this month a $2,800 grant from Friends of NRA was used in part to purchase an Eddie Eagle mascot costume for use by the Lebanon Police Department. The attention-getting costume will be worn at school and other youth-group presentations by officers from the Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown police departments, along with the Wilson County sheriff's office.
Since its inception in 1988, the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program has been taught to over 26 million youngsters, including more than 675,000 in Tennessee.
More than 335 law enforcement agencies have participated in bringing the gun-safety message to over 520 Tennessee schools.
Along with the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, Friends of NRA supports firearm training, Second Amendment issues, the Boy Scouts, Junior ROTC and interscholastic shooting programs.
In addition to the $2,800 Eddie Eagle grant to the Lebanon Police Department, Friends of NRA grants this year have gone to Lebanon High School's Junior ROTC ($5,573) and the Cedar City Straights ($1,916), a Wilson County interscholastic competing shooting program being organized by Lebanon's Ben Schade.
The interscholastic team is open to all youngsters age nine through high school. They must first complete a Firearm Safety Class. Individuals or schools seeking information can contact Schade at 615-478-8019.
Last year over $300,000 in grants was distributed to individuals, schools and organizations in Tennessee
Individuals, schools or civic organizations interested in applying for scholarships or grants can contact Friends of NRA through its website or at 1-800-423-6894.
Friends of NRA was established as a nonprofit organization that rises tax-deductable contributions in support of public-interest activities and programs endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
Last year the Wilson County Chapter earned national recognition for its membership growth and fund-raising efforts.