The Machine Project is a non-profit “community space” educational project, aimed at teaching kids age 7 and up their way around tools and mechanical things. While that’s something I entirely support, the Los Angeles program recently ran a class that just leaves me scratching my head. Called, “The Good Kids Guide To Being A Bit Bad: Cars Edition”, the class taught students the finer point of getting into (and in fairness, out of) a car when you don’t have a key. Instruction on the use of putty knives and coat hangers was given, and students were allowed to practice on Machine Project director Mark Allen’s personal car, a Honda Accord. Blood pressure up yet? Wait, because it gets better.
Machine Project instructor Tom Jennings then demonstrated how to hot wire the Honda Accord, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a necessary skill for every ten year old to possess. In the interest of safety, students were only allowed to watch, in order to avoid the risk of electrical shock associated with bridging the ignition switch’s terminals. While the same technique may not apply to stealing newer model cars, is this really knowledge we want to pass along to pre-teens? In defense of the class, Liane Yvkoff, a cnet writer, advised that kids were also taught how to escape from a locked trunk, which is good knowledge to have in the event of an abduction or getting stuck in the trunk of a junked car. I’m down with that, just like I’d be down with teaching a ten year old how to change oil or replace sparkplugs. When it comes to teaching them stuff that can seriously jam them up (or in a gun-centric culture, get them killed), I certainly think that common sense should prevail.
As a firearms instructor, I see some real irony here. No one seems to be overly upset when ten year olds are taught how to commit felony burglary, but what if someone offered a firearms safety class for kids in the same community space? Can you imagine the shock, outrage and overreaction there’d be to kids learning how to safely hold and unload a handgun? The instructor would be accused of “glorifying” guns and “minimizing their danger”, yet glorifying auto theft and minimizing the danger of auto burglary is socially acceptable. Weird double standard you have there, California.