The NRA’s plan to arm teachers as a way to prevent future mass shootings is taking hold in some states around the country thanks to a little help from local gun rights organizations.
In Ohio, Jim Irvine – the president of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation - is giving away 24 free passes to his $1000 ‘Armed Teacher Training Program.’ So far, he’s received over 400 applications for the three-day tactical defense course being held this spring.
“What better use for an educational foundation than to help educators protect our children,” Irvine told the Associated Press.
Under state law, a law-abiding citizen with a valid concealed carry permit can bring a firearm on school grounds if he/she has the school district’s permission. Irvine suspects that more districts will be coming around to the idea of arming teachers, faculty and staff in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“School boards were just in denial. That denial got ripped away in Newtown, Conn. The idea is to make it hard to kill a kid,” he said.
Similarly, in Utah, where teachers have been able to carry concealed firearms in K-12 schools for over a decade, more educators are taking an interest in firearms training.
Clark Aposhian, the chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, said prior to the Newtown tragedy, his organization trained roughly a dozen teachers a year. Already, for his next class, he is expecting more than 200 applicants to attend (Aposhian waved the $50 fee for all teachers).
Aposhian spoke to the Associated Press about the emphasis he puts on safety and how educators respond to the responsibility of carrying concealed firearms.
“We have never had any accidental or intentional shootings,” he told the AP, adding, “Teachers are professionals. They will take appropriate measures to maintain a gun discreetly and safely.”
Aposhian also dispelled the meme that increasing gun ownership among educators would lead to wanton vigilantism in schools.
Gun-toting teachers are “a deterrent when the bad guy comes in. He could be surprised by return fire from any direction. We are not expecting teachers to go out and actively engage the shooter. We want them to do the lockdown drill they have been trained to do,” Aposhian said.
“But it fails when someone breaks into a classroom. This is where having a firearm would be a better choice than diving in front of the bullets to protect the kids,” he explained.
Still, there are those who believe arming teachers (or school volunteers, guards, etc.) is a bad idea.
“Arming teachers is dangerous,” Carol Lear, a chief lawyer for the Utah Office of Education, told the Associated Press. She argued teachers could be “overpowered for their guns or misfire or cause an accidental shooting.”
“It’s a horrible, terrible, no-good, rotten idea,” Lear exclaimed.
Though, to the chagrin of people like Lear and Piers Morgan, it appears that several pro-gun states (Oklahoma, South Dakota, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida) are contemplating creating legislation that would require at least one armed employee in every school.
In fact, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne proposed a plan that would require each school to nominate one teacher to receive free firearms training provided by local sheriffs and the attorney general’s office.
“The ideal solution would be to have an armed Police Officer in each school,” Horne said in a Wednesday statement. “…It may not be possible to afford a Police Officer in every school. In that case, the next best solution is to have one person in the school trained to handle firearms, to handle emergency situations, and possessing a firearm in a secure location. This proposal is analogous to arming pilots on planes.”