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Arming teachers to stop school shooters

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The Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) training teaches shooting techniques and emergency medical training for treat gunshot wounds The Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) training teaches shooting techniques and emergency medical training for treat gunshot wounds
Teachers train to use guns to stop school shooting in Weld County. Teachers train to use guns to stop school shooting in Weld County.
Teachers train with handguns in school shooter training in Greeley, Colorado. Teachers train with handguns in school shooter training in Greeley, Colorado.
Teachers line up at the shooting range near the Weld County Sheriff's Office. Teachers line up at the shooting range near the Weld County Sheriff's Office.
A teacher looks at his target at the shooting range near the Weld County Sheriff's Office. A teacher looks at his target at the shooting range near the Weld County Sheriff's Office.
Weld County -

Around a dozen and half public school teachers and administrators in Colorado spent time over the summer break learning to stop an active shooter by firing back.  The Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) training was organized by the Coloradans for Civil Liberties, a self-described organization committed to restoring Second Amendment freedoms of Colorado citizens.

"Colorado law currently allows K-12 school staff to carry a concealed firearm on campus, provided they are designated by their school board, or charter school board, as a school security officer," explained Laura Carno, co-founder of Coloradans for Civil Liberties. "Dozens of school staff are already so designated. We want to bring them world-class training in stopping active shooters."

The training course was developed by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation and the Tactical Defense Institute, both based in Ohio.  It teaches advanced shooting techniques as well as medical training to treat gunshot wounds in hopes of limiting casualties. 

Participants must already have a Concealed Handgun Permit and be approved (or in the process of being approved) as a designated school safety officer by their respective school board or charter board. 

They must also demonstrate a high degree of accuracy and marksmanship in order to qualify. The 3 day training was held earlier this month at a gun range used by the Weld County Sheriff's Office. 

One of those trainees was Ronnie Wilson, a Charter Board President for the Liberty Tree Academy which plans to hope in Falcon District 49 next year.

"Honestly I'm very focused on the target. I want to qualify safely," Wilson said when asked what he's thinking about as he's firing at the targets. "I was able to do that, but you cannot help but think of the purpose of it, not only why I'm here but all these other teachers and administrators from around the state."

Instructor Graham Dunne is also a police sergeant in the Denver metro area.  He thinks that arming teachers is good idea given the time limitations law enforcement agencies face in responding to an active shooter.

"Most of these incidents are done within a minute and there are a dozen people dead within a minute," Dunne explained.

"I know as a police officer that we can't be everywhere all the time. I know that even if I'm a block away, by the time the call goes through dispatch and gets to me and I drive there and get all my gear; you're looking at 3 or 4 minutes, even if I'm really on the ball."

Not everyone thinks it's a good idea. Laura Cutilletta is Legal Director for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that advocates for stricter gun laws. She said teachers have enough on their plates already.

"For them to also be worrying about doing the job of a law enforcement officer while they're trying to teach and do all the other things that come along with teaching I think is pretty naive and its something that's not been thought out very well."

But Laura Carno of the CCL says rural schools can't afford to wait for the police.

"There are many schools that are 5 to 30 minutes away from law enforcement. What would you suggest that they do if something, God forbid, were to happen and a bad guy with a gun came in? Should they just dial 911 and wait," Carno said.

For Wilson, the decision to enroll in the training came down to a sense of responsibility for keeping kids safe.

"While people really truly care about making a difference and an impact, I think this is one way that some folks have said I can step in if it has to be me."

The FASTER training costs $1,000 and scholarships were offered through the Independence Institute. Carno said they are working to raise more money and offer another 3-day session later this summer.

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