A pair of budding freshmen at Burrell High School decided to get serious about gun safety for a public presentation July 16 at the Upper Burrell Volunteer Fire Department.
The freshman Girl Scout project sought to increase public awareness of gun safety to prevent accidental shooting by boys. The event also focused on how adults should safely secure firearms in the home.
“A lot of parents don’t teach kids about gun safety,” said Emma Spiering, 15, of Upper Burrell, one of the Girl Scouts who made the presentation. She hunts, plays tuba for Burrell’s marching band, and is a brown belt in taekwondo at TKD-Ameris.
“If I could prevent a child from being accidentally shot, it would be worth it,” Emma said.
Emma asked her friend and fellow Girl Scout, Zoie Pike, 14, of Lower Burrell, who plays trombone in Burrell’s marching band and plays soccer, to work on the special project she was counting on for her Girl. Scout Silver Award.
Zoie has been surrounded by guns her entire life, and her grandfather, Dave Pike, is a gunsmith in Smock, Pennsylvania, said her mother, Cindy Pike.
“She knows not to touch weapons. She has learned a lot from her grandfather,” said Cindy Pike.
Pike said the girls’ performance was wonderful and captured the attention of the children in the audience.
The girls busied themselves with researching gun safety and contacting organizations with the help of Emma’s uncle and Upper Burrell supervisor Ross Walker, who is an NRA-certified weapons instructor, who acts as a mentor.
The girls worked with a gun safety video from the NRA’s Eddie the Eagle campaign for “Stop. don’t touch Escape. Tell an adult.
They put together a presentation with their information on gun safety with additional talks from Upper Burrell Police Chief Ken Pate and Pennsylvania Gaming Commission Director of Gaming Michael Papinchak.
“It was really nice to see Emma and Zoie work so hard on their Girl Scout project and see the great response from the community,” said Pate.
For the presentation, Emma’s research revealed the prevalence of firearms in homes and that a high percentage of child firearm deaths occur in the home.
“That’s why it’s important to know about guns and keep them locked up,” he said.
“I wish more kids and parents knew more about gun safety,” Zoie said.
During the gun safety event, Pate and the ranger showed the audience how to properly use a gun lock. The Girl Scouts secured 60 gun locks from the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s ChildSafe Project to distribute to audience members.
Emma’s mother, Kate, wasn’t surprised her daughter focused on gun safety because she started hunting several years ago.
“I think it took a lot of thought and courage for them to do this show given the current state and climate of the world, where there are so many victims of mass shootings,” Kate Spiering said.
“His intention was not to promote or discourage guns. His overall focus was educating children and parents,” she said.
Emma pocketed her first dollar last year in the township and has been hunting squirrels and raccoons. She has been breeding a redtick coonhound, named Molly, for raccoon hunting.
Emma said that in the future she would like to talk again about the importance of gun safety.