School administrators in the tiny Colorado town of Briggsdale will allow an unspecified number of teachers to carry concealed handguns in the classroom as long as they agree to participate in ongoing training.
Participants must commit to hitting the firing range for a minimum of 100 rounds per month.
Briggsdale, located in northeastern Colorado, is too small to have it’s own police department and it’s at least 20 minutes away from the nearest emergency response.
It’s the isolation that makes arming teachers important, superintendent Rick Mondt told the Greeley Tribune.
“I don’t have a two-minute or minute-and-30 response time,” he said. “That would be the only reason that I would think this would be somewhat of a necessity.”
The idea of allowing teachers and other school staff members to carry firearms in the classroom stems from the Sandy Hook massacre in which 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at a school in Newtown, Conn. nearly a year ago. Proponents see it as a logical means of defending students in the event of a school shooting.
But other say that more guns will only lead to more tragedies.
“I can sympathize with [the school's] location, and they’re small, but to me, that’s an accident waiting to happen,” Jane Dougherty, the sister of slain Sandy Hook psychologist Mary Sherlach told Denver’s 9News.
“I think about my sister,” she said. “She would never, ever want to be somebody walking around with a gun.”
The issue was debated in the Colorado legislature shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre. Republicans had introduced a bill allowing school districts the leeway to decide whether teachers with concealed carry permits could bring their weapons to school. The bill died along party lines in a Democratic-controlled committee.
Committee vice chairman Sen. Jesse Ulibari said he was worried about kids getting caught in crossfire between an assailant and a teacher with a gun. He also said the concealed carry permitting process required relatively minimal training compared to law enforcement.
Although the bill died, some rural school districts worked around the restriction against weapons in schools by giving some staff members double duty as security guards, who are allowed to carry guns on school property. The school district in tiny Dolores, Colo., was the first to try this approach, “hiring” the principal and vice principal as security guards authorized to carry guns.
Mondt said Briggsdale addressed the training issue by requiring its pistol-packing teachers to maintain their concealed carry permits, participate in refresher courses twice a year and fire at least 100 rounds a month at the shooting range.
The courses are specially designed to address shooting accurately in high-stress situations. The teachers and staff are also to be trained in emergency medical response that will be useful in any emergency situation.
“If you think of it, the real odds of someone coming in with a gun in schools is still very, very small, but the odds of us having a tornado or a wreck are much higher,” Mondt told the Greeley Tribune. “The real purpose in our mind is tied to the experience and being able to handle those other incidents that have probably a much greater risk of happening than the gun situation.”
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he had no problem with the school district’s plans.
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