Despite claims from some teacher's groups that interest was low in an offer to provide firearms training, a pro-gun group in Ohio says it's been asked by more than a thousand Ohio teachers if they can take part in a free program to provide gun training.
The Buckeye Firearms Foundation made the offer the weekend before Christmas, originally as a pilot program with a class of 24 teachers to answer calls for safety in schools as a response to the Newtown school shootings. The group notes with more than a thousand teachers expressing an interest, cost to the Foundation would be over one million dollars.
The Foundation says 84% of those requesting the training are teachers (70%) or administrators (14%) with the remainder made up of office and support staff. Most work in public schools, with half in high schools.
The group today released a FAQ list (Frequently Asked Questions)
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(Buckeye Firearms Foundation) On December 20, 2012, Buckeye Firearms Foundation announced the Armed Teacher Training Program.
The original intent was to simply offer free firearm training to 24 teachers in order to show that teachers could be an effective deterrent to mass murder in schools.
After three weeks, we have received well over 1,000 requests for this training. So while the goal is still the same, the scope of this program has changed significantly.
Parents, teachers, school boards, and the media have inundated us with questions about this program. So here are answers to some of the most common.
Q: What is the Armed Teacher Training Program?
A: It's a program sponsored by Buckeye Firearms Foundation to provide free first responder training to educational employees. This training will focus primarily on armed response to an "active killer" scenario, but we may also offer additional instruction on medical trauma care, mindset, general school security, etc.
Q: How many educators have applied?
A: As of Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 1,048 educators have completed our questionnaire to apply for training. We are receiving more requests every day. Most are from Ohio, but many requests are from other states.
Q: What sort of people are applying?
A: Based on the current 1,000+ applicants, about 60% are men and 40% are women. More than 70% are teachers, 14% are administrators, and the balance are office staff and other employees. About 85% work in public schools and over 50% work in high schools. There's a fairly even distribution among urban, suburban, and rural schools. About 55% have moderate to extensive firearm experience, 70% have experience with handguns, and more than 40% already have a license to carry a concealed firearm. A number of these applicants are ex-military and former law enforcement.
Q: When is the first class?
A: We have not yet set a date, but expect to hold the first class in the Spring. This isn't ordinary training. It's not a typical "safety" or beginner's class that can be done at any neighborhood shooting range. It's advanced training dealing with active killer scenarios and requires a dynamic range that allows shooting on the move, force-on-force, live-fire houses, and outdoor training. So we're holding off for better weather.
Q: How will the Foundation select who gets training?
A: For the first class, we'll select a wide variety of educators, including teachers, administrators, and other staff members. We'll also consider different skill and experience levels in order to test the curriculum. This will help us gauge the effectiveness and limits of the training so we can make adjustments before offering the training more widely.
The only requirements at this point are that all applicants must be employed as an educator and have a valid Concealed Handgun License (CHL) in the state where they work.
Q: What if someone does not have a CHL?
A: Federal law requires a CHL or equivalent to possess a firearm in a school. We will work with applicants who need this license and help them find classes close to them. This training can be done at any time during the year.
Q: What will the training include?
A: Applicants will have already covered basic firearm safety and marksmanship during the training for their Concealed Handgun License. Therefore, our training will be on a more advanced level and will focus specifically on how to effectively respond to "active killer" scenarios in a school environment. In addition to firearm techniques, our training will also cover other skill sets, including medical trauma care, which is critical to saving lives in mass killing situations.
Q: Will this be police training?
A: No. Police have very complicated jobs and receive training on the law, evidence gathering, paperwork, trial preparation, and many other topics that teachers do not need to know. Our training will deal with a highly focused skill set and go beyond state law enforcement requirements for dealing with active killers. And it will be tailored specifically for teachers in school situations.
Q: Will all schools be required to have armed teachers?
A: No. The vast majority of teachers did not sign up to carry guns and have no interest in doing so. But for volunteers who have the motivation, skills, and training, and who want to provide a critical layer of security for their school, we need to give them the tools to stop "active killers" as fast as possible.
Q: Can you legally have a gun in school?
A: In general, schools in Ohio are "gun-free" zones by law. However, the Ohio Revised Code, specifically 2923.122, allows a board of education to authorize employees who are otherwise allowed to own and carry firearms to carry those firearms in their schools.
Q: Will boards of education give their approval?
A: Some will. Some won't. What might surprise you is that there are armed teachers in schools right now. And more and more are considering it every day. Many of our applicants have told us they already have permission. As you read this, meetings are taking place all over Ohio and in many other states where the topic is "Should we consider allowing our teachers and other personnel to carry firearms at school?"
Q: Who will pay for this training?
A: Buckeye Firearms Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization, has committed to fund the pilot class, which will accept 24 students. And we are already talking to a wide variety of donors and corporations to help us fund the program going forward. At about $1,000 per applicant (including class and range time, ammunition, and lodging), we'll need at least $1 million just to fund training for the applicants we have now.
Q: What happens after the first class?
A: We'll evaluate the training, make any necessary adjustments, and begin rolling out the training program to other locations around Ohio. We'll also share our curriculum with interested parties in other states who wish to start a similar program.
Q: Can you guarantee that armed teachers will stop a mass murder?
A: No. Even a full SWAT team can't guarantee absolute safety in any given school. What we can guarantee is that if a school has no one on-site who can respond to an active killer threat, people are going to die until someone can respond. Dozens of people can be killed in just 5 or 10 minutes. So fast response is essential.
Q: How can you apply for training?
A: If you are a teacher, school official, or educational employee, go to www.BuckeyeFirearms.org to complete a questionnaire for consideration.