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'I don't want to lose my life at a young age': Program teaches Cincinnati teens gun safety

Gun safety
Posted at 10:11 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 22:11:52-04

CINCINNATI — As increased gun violence continues to be a concern for city leaders and residents, one certified firearms instructor is making it his mission to teach children about gun safety.

Rufus Johnson is teaching his five-week youth gun safety training program to students at Dohn Community High School. He said he believes making children and young adults aware of firearm do's and don'ts is one way to limit the city's gun violence.

“It’s on our news every day. Every day someone is almost dying of gun violence or coming across a firearm," Johnson said. “A lot of the students I talk to feel like it’s going to be a bad summer. I get a lot of fear. They deal with firearms because they fear they may be next or next in a drive-by shooting — that’s the scary part.”

Dohn ninth-grader Robert Lyles said there have been times when he fears walking home.

“A man ran down the street and just started shooting,” Lyles said. “That could have been one of us, but we were lucky. We got away.”

While he never thought he'd deal with guns in the classroom, Lyles said he's been eager to learn from Johnson. He said he has lost a loved one who was playing with a weapon.

"I don't want to lose my life at a young age," Lyles said.

Through the course, Johnson shows educational videos and talks to the students about what to do and who they should call if they come across a weapon. In 2021, the Cincinnati Police Department confiscated 1,500 firearms.

“This stuff is happening,” said Ramone Davenport, Dohn Community High School Director. “If you are closing a blind eye to it then shame on you, because this is real stuff that is real life for these students.”

Lyles' classmates will graduate from the course in April. Then, Johnson will teach another round of students. Johnson said he's hoping his students will pass along the knowledge to family and friends.

"It takes a community, everyone's got a role they play — the community, law enforcement, schools — until we can all come together to solve the problem," said Johnson.

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