Last week, a three-day intensive course for training school teachers to carry guns in a classroom was launched in Weld County, Colorado. Seventeen teachers have signed up for the training, believing that being able to carry a concealed gun in the classroom would allow them to better protect their students. The training is hosted by Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER). Laura Carno is the founder of Coloradans for Civil Liberties, the organization that has funded the recent training of the staff members of Colorado schools. In an interview with Fox News 31 Denver, she spoke positively about the staff members undergoing the training saying, “It just becomes an additional volunteer duty. The rule of thumb is one person per building per floor.” Due to recent events in US history, schools have become a “soft target” for violence. Thus, to many, these trainings are being seen as a solution for preventing future school shootings like Sandy Hook and Columbine. Most of these trainings are taking place in rural areas, where the closest law enforcements are typically thirty minutes away. In short, the goal is for the teachers to become the first responders in the case of an emergency. Various reports state that there is currently a waitlist for school staff members who want to partake in the training.
Not surprisingly, the training has sparked large amounts of protests, mainly from parents and organizations who are against weapons on school grounds. Compared to most countries, the US has witnessed an exceptional amount of mass shootings. A professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama, Adam Lankford, found that one of the main reasons for this is because access to firearms is greater in the US than it is in the rest of the world. His research also showed that one has an increased chance of being a victim of a mass shooting if they are at a school or at work. Campaign groups including Safe Campus Colorado and Keep Guns Off Campus, have continued to encourage supporters to help keep guns out of schools by petitioning local authorities. The main problem however, is that the training and the possession of a handgun at a workplace, is perfectly legal in Colorado (as long as the individual has a concealed weapon permit). Colorado’s conceal and carry laws have loopholes for teachers who volunteer to be “security officers.”
Yet, political activist Kevin Toltz told Colorado 9 News Channel that, “the dangers of adding guns to a school environment are dramatically increased by allowing loaded lethal weapons into a school environment on a daily basis.” Others like Toltz have said that a three-day course is insufficient to adequately prepare school staff members for potential confrontation with an armed attacker. Colorado Ceasefire is an organization that is proactive against violence prevention. One of their representatives, Eileen McCarron, told The Denver Post, “as a former teacher, the idea of arming teachers is frightening.”
Similar cases include universities in Texas and Kansas that are now allowing their students to carry concealed weapons throughout their campuses, and this has led many professors to resign. Just last month, Jacob Dorman, an associate professor at the University of Kansas, protested the school’s new student gun policy by resigning. His letter of resignation was then published and made public by The Topeka Capital- Journal. In a few simple, yet profound words, he wrote, “Kansas can have great universities, or it can have concealed carry in classrooms, but it cannot have both.” Although having weapons on campus might make some students feel empowered and safe, it actually increases the risks of a violent incident.
Solution: get informed, get proactive, vote
The question remains, should schools permit their staff and students to carry weapons on school grounds? It is a controversial question, and there are persuasive arguments on both sides. The second amendment of the US constitution grants Americans the right to bear arms. Many Americans believe that due to this amendment, it is their right to be able to own and carry concealed weapons. But would giving teachers the ability to possess a weapon in the classroom protect the students in the case of a school shooting, or would this expose the students to a greater risk? Whatever your opinion is, the best way to get involved is by joining the debate, and by voting in your local elections.
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