After the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, both the National Rifle Association and the Buckeye Firearms Association stated the best way to prevent future school shootings is by arming and training teachers and other school personnel.
The Buckeye Firearms Association is offering a pilot training course for 24 teachers in the spring, but just two weeks after announcing the program it’s already overflowing - 600 people have applied.
StateImpact Ohio caught up with Buckeye Firearms Association’s Jim Irvine to talk about training and arming teachers, and the concerns some folks have about putting a gun in every classroom.
Q: What will the training be like?
A: It won’t be until March or April. It has to be conducted in an outside range, a dynamic range as they’re called, because it’s just something you can’t do shooting down lanes at a firing range, so weather is a factor in Ohio and the class is not completely designed yet.
In a traditional shooting range you’re in a shooting lane, but classrooms aren’t conducted in lanes. The threat can come from anywhere; the threat can come from multiple directions. You have to analyze the threat in a 3D environment. We want to train for the real event.
We’re not teaching the class, we’re paying for the class. We’re just facilitating.
We have to change the mindset in schools and get some good people in schools that are the first line of defense. This isn’t a new idea it’s just that the events in Connecticut make what we’ve been talking about for years all of a sudden politically acceptable. Now everything is on the table, this is something that can and will be done.
Q: How do you choose which teachers get to participate?
A: We’ve got hundreds of teachers who will apply for the 24 spots to do this. (Ed. Note: at last count 600 teachers from Ohio and other states have applied.)
We’re going to go through the applicants and pick out 24 to be a good representation of different groups. That includes different teachers of different grade levels; males and females, public and private, rural, urban and suburban teachers, and people in schools who aren’t teachers. We want to touch all the bases. We’ll learn from this program. Make sure this works for all the intended people that need to take a class for this and then roll it out. This is not designed to be an ending.
We intend to lead the nation and let’s rethink our school security.
Q: Some people argue arming teachers isn’t a good idea. What do you say to them?
A: We’re not proposing just arm all the teachers, but that’s a step. Our society needs to predict, is there risk factors that says does this person need some intervention? If you can’t, we need to look at hardening our schools. We’ve done a lot since 9/11. Look at the things that have worked well and duplicate them. Look at those things that haven’t and replace them.
And we need to build layers of defense. This maybe is the most important thing, and it goes against what we’ve been saying for 30 years, and that is you’ve got to fight. These events continue until the killer meets resistance. This is a situation that not only allows fighting but demands it.
Q: Columbine had an armed officer in the school when the shooting happened there. If it didn’t work there, why would arming folks in schools work elsewhere?
A: That’s true. There was. We’re not saying to get rid of school resource officers. We would love to have one in every school.
I find it funny that the same people that say that about Columbine are the same ones who want to ban high capacity assault weapons. The school resource officer is one guy that’s armed and everybody knows who that is. That’s the one guy you want to kill first.
Cops get shot at more often than the average citizen. That’s the guy that you take out first.
With concealed carry, we don’t see that because you don’t know who the person (carrying a gun) is. We need to hide the identity of whatever teachers or administrators are carrying a gun so [a shooter] can’t go kill that person first and then slaughter everyone else in the building.
Q: Others have pointed out that placing guns in the classrooms might be dangerous if a teacher snaps, or if a student gets a hold of the weapon. What happens if a teacher uses their gun to attack their own school?
A: If the teacher’s going to snap, the teacher’s going to snap. There’s nothing that prevents that from happening. It’s not a bigger threat now than it will be then. It could happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Q: What if a student gets a hold of the teacher’s weapon?
A: As far as the accidental stuff, that is something that does need to get looked at.
Maybe we should look at doing some training in schools, like the Eddy Eagle program from the NRA. My kids watch it, it’s just as annoying as Barney. But I’m never going to say no to that.
Yes that is a potential risk, and we should look at it.
But, frankly, it hasn’t been a problem. A couple other states have been arming teachers for years. Texas, there’s a well known school in Texas that has done it. Alabama and Utah. Connecticut used to allow guns in schools, but changed their law in 1998.
I’m willing to listen to anybody and even if you’re afraid of guns, maybe they can come up with something that we didn’t think of.