More than 1,600 school personnel apply for free firearms training

More than 1,600 Ohio school personnel have applied for free training from the Buckeye Firearms Foundation since the program was launched just over a year ago, according to data from the foundation.

The foundation has trained 167 teachers, administrators and other school staff and projects it will have trained up to 300 by the time classes are completed in 2014 in the Armed Teacher Training program

The Buckeye Firearms Foundation, a nonprofit firearms educational organization, launched Armed Teacher Training in December 2012, just after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., claimed 28 lives, including 20 children on Dec. 14, 2012.

“We want to give them the problem solving skills to identify these situations to keep themselves and the children safe,” said Joe Eaton, Southwest Ohio Region Leader for the Buckeye Firearms Foundation. “And then we want to give them the life-saving skills also that they can immediately implement, should they ever be not only in an active killer situation but any type of emergency whether it’s tornadoes, a car crash, a bus accident, injuries in the bleachers, anything along those lines.”

Kevin Quinn, president of the National Association of School Resource Officers opposes arming teachers.

“We obviously feel that having a properly trained, properly selected school resource officer should be the only person on the campus armed with a weapon,” Quinn said. He said he sees potential problems with arming teachers, administrators and other staff. Police could be hindered in a shooting situation because they have to spend time determining who is trying to protect students and who is trying to do harm, Quinn said.

Of Ohio school personnel who have sought training, 73 percent were teachers, 14 percent were administrators, 2 percent were other office staff, 2 percent were custodial and 1 percent were maintenance staff, the foundation data shows.

Armed Teacher Training is a 3½-day course that includes a review of previous school shootings, an overview of what generally happens in a mass shooting, firearm safety and first aid application in mass trauma situations, Eaton said.

The training also includes simulated attacks.

“The teachers can start seeing what they’ve practiced and learned over the past few days is effective in immediately diffusing situations,” Eaton said.

Lisa Murphy a third-grade teacher in Warren County completed Armed Teacher Training last summer.

“It gave me a whole new perspective on what I needed to do to protect my children,” said Murphy, who is also a firearms instructor.

Murphy said she developed a growing need a few years ago to learn more about using firearms to protect family and friends. The Armed Teacher Training is an extension of that, she said.

Teachers and administrators who carry guns should be “competent, educated and willing to create a safe environment for our children,” Murphy said.

“I’ve heard the comment: ‘Teachers have enough on their plates. They don’t need one more thing to worry about.’ I do understand that and I totally agree. Yes we do,” Murphy said. “But the reason that we’re teachers is because we care about the children and the children are first and foremost in our minds. So I will feel a lot better having my tools to protect my children than to have to sit back and go, I could have.’’

Elizabeth Terry, who teaches at a Dayton area private high school, also completed the firearms training program last year summer. She said her school is considering allowing teachers to carry concealed firearms. Terry said she has a long history with firearms and views the training as another tool to prepare her to protect her students if necessary.

“You watch what happens in these other schools such as Newtown, and there’s not a teacher out there, I guarantee you, who wouldn’t stand in front of a bullet,” Terry said. “All of them would do it because we feel very responsible for all of our students. But what if we could do more?”

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