In light of mass school shootings like Columbine, Colorado teachers and support staff are getting an advanced training course to prepare for incidents involving armed assailants on school property.
The Coloradans for Civil Liberties and the Independence Institute have organized the class, which is given by police, SWAT, and people with federal law enforcement backgrounds.
The three-day course demonstrates move-and-shoot drills, hand-to-hand combat, and medical triage of gunshot injuries. The class, Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response, or FASTER, was started five years ago by Buckeye Firearms Foundation and Tactical Defense Institute in Ohio. Since then, almost 900 school employees have finished the class.
Co-founder of Coloradans for Civil Liberties Laura Carno said, “I don’t think there is anything as good as FASTER.” The organization bringing FASTER to Colorado is “committed to restoring the Second Amendment freedoms of Colorado citizens.”
Currently, about 25 school districts around the state, most of them in rural areas, have designated staff members who legally carry concealed weapons as security officers for the school.
“Dozens of school staff are already so designated,” Carno said in a statement. “We want to bring them world-class training in stopping active shooters.”
The first class is scheduled for June 20-22 at a shooting range in Weld County. Any applicant who has a concealed-carry permit and has been approved by their school board to be a security officer can attend the class.
Tuition is $1,000 per person, but executive vice president of Independence Institute Amy Cooke says scholarships are available through their organization.
“We have raised scholarship money, because we never want the lack of training budget money to keep any school personnel from having access to lifesaving training,” Cooke said.
Colorado Ceasefire is a group that lobbies for gun violence prevention through legislation. Eileen McCarron says medical training of any kind is an excellent idea for school staff, but allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons is “just wrong-headed.”
“As a former teacher, the idea of arming teachers is frightening,” she said. “Teachers have enough to do without worrying about stopping an assailant with a gun.” Other critics point out that teachers who carry a gun in class risk having it taken away by either a student or an assailant. But those who keep the weapon locked up spend critical time trying to gain access to it.
Senate Bill 005, authored by Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, would allow county sheriffs to train school staff. Holbert addresses the fact there is no training standard for school employees and he hopes to change that.
Opposition claimed the bill was nothing more than an attempt to allow more guns on school property. SB 005 died in the Democratic majority House.
Bennett School District CEO Keith Yaich said both parents and students like the fact the school has armed staff. The school district is 30 miles away from Denver, and Yaich says it might take police 20 minutes to respond to a call.
“We are aware of all the school shootings going on, and we didn’t want that to happen here in Bennett,” he said. Two years ago, school officials allowed qualified staff to carry firearms. He said they may send staff members to the FASTER class.