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.
Sixty-three of them have been trained in Colorado, home to the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. The swing state has a Democratic governor and both a Democrat and a Republican in the US Senate.
“I think it’s scary to people to bring a weapon into school,” conceded Katie, a first-grade teacher in Jefferson County, west of state capital Denver, who declined to give her second name.
“They just see the bad side, not the positive side of how guns can save people,” the 27-year-old told AFP.
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.
As shootings multiply and Congress remains paralyzed, FASTER saw an uptick in business, even before President Donald Trump supported arming teachers in the wake of a Valentine’s Day massacre in Florida.
“I had to add four additional classes to our schedule to meet demand this year, but I don’t think it was related to Trump,” Ohio director Joe Eaton said.
This week, 24 Colorado school staff, including principals, teachers and pastors, attended a three-day training led by four active duty law enforcement officers.