US teachers quietly train to carry guns into school

COMMERCE CITY, UNITED STATES: When Donald Trump proposed arming teachers to deter school shooters, the overwhelming response from educators was horror. Yet teachers in Colorado are taking action to carry concealed guns to school.

The non-profit group FASTER, set up after 20 small children were killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has trained more than 1,300 US school staff, mostly in Ohio, on how to use a handgun in the event of a school shooting.

“They just see the bad side, not the positive side of how guns can save people,” the 27-year-old told AFP.

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She was a student this week at the three-day, $1,000 course in Commerce City outside Denver.

The United States is the only developed country in the world that suffers relentless school shootings with roughly one a week, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group working to restrict firearms.

America’s gun violence epidemic kills around 33,000 people each year. More than 214,000 students have experienced a school shooting in the United States since 1999, according to a Washington Post database.

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This week, 24 Colorado school staff, including principals, teachers and pastors, attended a three-day training led by four active duty law enforcement officers.

Wayne, a facilities manager at a rural primary and high school, said his district estimates it would take 20 to 25 minutes for law enforcement to respond to an incident at the school, which has no SRO.

It took just 7.5 minutes for two teenage boys to kill their Columbine classmates in the library, where survivor Evan Todd told the class he was hiding. Twelve students and a teacher died in the 1999 shooting in Littleton, Colorado.

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Staff who receive POST qualification could be considered by their school districts to be security guards in order to legally carry concealed guns on school premises.

FASTER encourages schools to announce that they have armed staff as a deterrent for would-be shooters.

Students themselves are divided.

“I think it would be a very smart thing so you don’t have to wait and fear for your life,” said Alex Easton, 14, from Aurora, Colorado.

FASTER is trying to schedule classes in Indiana and Wyoming, and see if there is enough demand to hold classes in New York state next year.

“The more people talking about it, taking classes and carrying and getting approval from districts, the more it won’t be a scary, ominous thing,” said Katie, the first-grade teacher.

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