While school’s out for summer, some teachers are training on a gun range in Weld County.
“In a nutshell, it is training for teachers and other school staff who are armed first responders in their schools,” Laura Carno said.
Carno is the founder of Coloradans for Civil Liberties which paid for about 17 staff members from Colorado schools to receive FASTER Training. The acronym stands for “Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response.” The program started in Ohio and Carno brought it to Colorado, offering scholarships to school staff members, mostly from rural districts.
“By and large rural school districts, who have made the decision that law enforcement is 30-45 minutes away,” Carno explained. “They are their own first responders.”
Ronnie Wilson was one of the students taking part in the three-day training event that started Tuesday. He hopes to open a K-12 charter school in Colorado Springs. Wilson said he gets an equal number of questions from parents about academics and school safety.
“I’m looking for every possible venue and avenue to ensure safety of students,” Wilson said.
Wilson was the only school staff member involved in the training willing to share his name and school with reporters. The others wanted to keep their identities private for a specific reason.
“If you picture a bad guy with ill intent and wanting to harm a particular school, if he knows that school staff is armed, or that a particular staff member is armed, that gives him a strategic advantage,” Carno explained. “We never want the bad guy to have a strategic advantage.”
Under Colorado law, school staff members can carry concealed weapons in school so long as they have a permit and are designated as a security officer. Carno said most of those involved in the training are already carrying concealed weapons in schools.
“These teachers are not going to get the level of training that law enforcement or really highly trained security guards are going to have,” said Tom Mauser, of Colorado Ceasefire.
Mauser lost his son, Daniel, in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. He said he sees no problem with well-trained, armed security guards at schools, but he has several concerns with teachers being armed.
“Cross fire, if you have more than one armed person,” Mauser said. “[A] teacher becoming the first person that might be targeted, law enforcement coming on the scene not knowing who the good guy and the bad guy is.”
Mauser said he believes the FASTER Training is preying on people’s fears and is really intended to pressure schools to arm teachers. Mauser’s sentiments were shared by Ken Toltz, founder and co-chair of Safe Campus Colorado.
“The dangers of adding guns to a school environment are dramatically increased by allowing loaded lethal weapons into a school environment on a daily basis – as the promoters of FASTER envision,” Toltz said in statement provided to 9NEWS.
Toltz also expressed concern about the political motivations behind the FASTER Training program.
“FASTER was created and is promoted by the Ohio state gun lobby,” Toltz said. “Bringing it to Weld County is an attempt to lay the groundwork for another legislative push in the 2018 session to loosen Colorado’s gun laws.”
Laura Carno downplayed the politics behind the training event in Weld County.
“I don’t think anybody’s opposed to safety training, so I think that’s why it’s not really controversial,” she said.
Tuesday’s training also included sessions on crisis management and medical instruction on how to use a tourniquet. The training event will wrap up on Thursday with a mock shooting event where school staff members will have to apply everything they’ve learned.