An Open Letter to Mark Kelly About the NRA's Eddie Eagle Program

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was injured during a shooting in Tucson, Ariz., du
Former astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was injured during a shooting in Tucson, Ariz., during the inaugural National Prosecutorial Summit, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 in Atlanta. Comprised of prosecutors from different parts of the country, the new coalition, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, held a summit to discuss gun violence issues. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

Dear Mark: The last thing I'll do is tell someone else they shouldn't say something that they have said. I may disagree with you but everyone has the right to go on record any way they choose. So I won't tell you that you shouldn't have posted the positive tweet about the Eddie Eagle program, but I am going to tell you why your tweet isn't true.

Mark, you may believe that the Eddie Eagle program is a serious and successful effort to spread the word about gun safety, but it's actually the NRA's poster child for making everyone believe that the organization represents a positive force in the debate about guns. In fact, we wouldn't need a gun debate if the NRA hadn't decided back in the 1980s to abandon a hundred-year tradition of representing hunters and sport shooters, embarking instead on a continuous campaign to become America's leading civil rights organization by protecting us from gun-grabbing liberals, big-city mayors and anyone else with an interest in having a rational discussion about guns.

Your beloved wife, Gabby Giffords, was almost killed by a crazy whose Glock pistol allowed him to shoot 19 people without reloading thanks to a high-capacity magazine which the NRA has defended as the "right" of every American to own. And if the Safeway parking lot where she was gunned down had been a gun-free zone, the NRA will tell you that this only increased the risk of an active shooting, but the data on such shootings shows the reverse to be true.

But let's leave all the talk about the NRA's distortions about gun risk aside Mark, and focus on the Eddie Eagle program itself. The NRA advertises the program as "a gun accident prevention program" that seeks to educate children about what to do if they ever come across a gun. The curricular materials were developed by Dr. Lisa Monroe whom, according to the NRA, has earned accolades and accomplishments spanning more than two decades." Further, the program was named "the best" of 80 gun accident prevention programs evaluated in a study published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing Online.

Wow. That's quite an impressive evaluation of Eddie Eagle and I'll bet you paid this close attention Mark before you wrote your tweet, right? There's only one little problem Captain Kelly. None of it is true. None, as in nothing. Ready? The outstanding educator, Lisa Monroe, who has earned all kinds of education awards over the last two decades was, in fact, earning her Master's degree in 1995, didn't publish her first article until 1999 and taught at the University of Oklahoma grade school that is run by OU's Department of Education for the next ten years. As for the notion that Eddie Eagle was the best of 80 accident-prevention programs evaluated, in fact the reviewer evaluated three programs, found Eddie Eagle to be slightly more effective than the STAR program of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, but noted that her evaluation was based only on the curricular content since there had never been any study conducted to determine outcomes of the program; i.e., how did the program alter student behavior as regards being safe around guns?

In other words Mark, the description that the NRA uses to promote its Eddie Eagle safety program is false. They want you to believe that their "educational program" is akin to a public service announcement, but it's actually a cynical and craven marketing ploy.

Mark, please don't get me wrong. I have no issue with anyone on either side of the gun debate reaching out to the other side if and when they find something being said or done that deserves attention and support. But the truth is that you haven't taken the trouble to investigate what the Eddie Eagle program is all about. Not to worry Mark -- I've done it for you.