States Push Ahead With Plans to Arm Teachers

A frank comment from Rand Paul might frighten gun control advocates -- but in the meantime, some educators are headed for the shooting range.

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An instructor helps a student at a teachers-only firearms training class in Sarasota, Florida on January 16. (Reuters)

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, lawmakers are moving quickly to respond to the public outcry to do more to ensure schools are safe. But will arming teachers -- or putting an armed guard at every school in the nation, as the NRA has suggested -- make a meaningful difference? Or would it actually increase the risk of harm, as some gun control advocates contend?

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky recently addressed those concerns with a degree of candor that might not help advance his crusade to allow educators to pack heat. At an event with business leaders in Oldham County (as recorded by the Louisville Courier-Journal), Rand said the following: "Is it perfect? No. Would they always get the killer? No. Would an accident sometimes happen in a melee? Maybe."

Labor groups and associations representing the nation's school teachers and principals have already said that asking educators to be prepared to respond to an armed intruder with similar firepower is an unreasonable burden. At the same time, there's also been a reported spike in interest among some teachers who say they want to know what their options are when it comes to protecting themselves -- and possibly their students -- from an armed intruder on campus.

For more than decade, the Utah Shooting Sports Council has offered free weapons training to teachers. The first class of the new year brought ten times the normal enrollment, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The class covers the fundamentals of applying for a concealed weapons permit, carrying a weapon, and using it to respond to an emergency. And the training doesn't just focus on how to respond with a gun. Teachers are also taught techniques such as "gouging an attacker's eyes, choking an attacker and how to hide," according to the Tribune.

Utah teachers are far from the only ones expressing increased interest in concealed weapons. There has also been a jump in inquiries at gun training clinics in Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post, even though the state bans nearly all weapons at public schools.

"It's frightening to be a member of a profession that's just been attacked," Palm Beach County School Board member Jenny Prior Brown told the newspaper. "It is a terrible feeling to feel helpless. Is it surprising they would go and get firearms even if they can't bring them on school property? No."

Districts in a number of states, including Florida and North Carolina, have opted in the short-term for adding more campus resource officers. (Their level of training and the weapons they're allowed to carry vary widely from state to state.)

Presented by

Emily Richmond is the public editor for the National Education Writers Association. She was previously the education reporter for the Las Vegas Sun.

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