Surge in interest in armed school staffers

While most of the media’s attention is focused on gun control efforts on Capitol Hill, away from the spotlight many school districts are quietly investigating the possibility of having armed school staff members in place.

FASTER Colorado’s Laura Carno joined me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to talk about the overwhelming interest that the group has received from Colorado school districts since the horrific murders at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and I have to say I was a little surprised to learn that in a blue state like Colorado so many school board members, superintendents, and school staff are embracing the idea of having at least a few armed employees who can serve as a first line of defense in case of a targeted attack on campus.

Carno says that currently 37 of the state’s 178 school districts currently participate in FASTER training, which is a multi-day course of instruction offered with the support of donors and the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank based in Denver. The program, which is now in its sixth year, has primarily instructed teachers and staff from smaller school districts in rural areas as well as charter schools in some of the state’s more populated areas, but she tells me that over the past two weeks she’s heard from a number of “normal” school districts that might already have school resource officers in place in some locations who are hoping to add another layer of security for students and staff alike.

Despite the massive increase in interest, which Carno says could lead to FASTER Colorado training as many as 1,000 school staff members this year, teachers unions and many educators continue to publicly oppose the idea. Speaking during a House hearing on several gun control measures on Wednesday, National Education Association president Rebecca Pringle criticized arming school staff and demanded lawmakers impose new gun control laws instead.

“We cannot place enough armed guards at every school building in America to protect our babies. We cannot ask educators to carry weapons and wear body armor while teaching and nurturing our students, because by the time someone has shown up with a military weapons, it is already too late,” Pringle said.

Pringle is right that we’re not going to have school resource officers in every school building. Smaller districts can’t afford it, and many districts in Democrat-controlled cities are opposed to having law enforcement on campus because they’re afraid it will lead to more arrests and criminal charges for what they see are infractions that should be handled internally.

Where Pringle is off-base, however, is her assertion that “educators and parents overwhelmingly reject the idea of armed school staff.” Not only have recent polls shown a majority of respondents say that armed staff make schools safer, Carno tells Bearing Arms that FASTER Colorado has never had a district express an interest in the training only to come back and tell the organization that they couldn’t find enough volunteers willing to carry a gun to protect students and staff.

“What we see on the volunteer side… is these are people who’ve had their concealed carry permits for years or decades, and they carry a concealed firearm to protect themselves and their families every day. They’re just disarmed when they’re coming to school,” Carno explained.

Carno went on to say that the excuses offered by teachers unions about it not being the job of educators to protect kids belies the response that we have seen from brave and courageous teachers when one of these attacks does take place.

“Every time we see one of these school shootings teachers, coaches, counselors, and school staff of all sortrs run to the sound of the gun, put their bodies between bullets and children to save those children. We know they have the mindset to save kids. They keep trying to do that and dying in the process. What these policies are offering is an opportunity to stop the killer before he kills children and to have that teacher or janitor or coach go home to their family that night too. They should have a self-defense right in a place where they’re sitting ducks; a chance to defend these children and themselves and go home that night.”

It’s an argument that the mainstream media, anti-gun politicians, and teachers union presidents may brush aside, but it’s one that’s clearly resonating with a lot of school districts across Colorado (and my guess is other states as well). We’ll be checking back in with Laura Carno before school resumes in the fall to see just how many school staff members received their FASTER training during summer break, but it sounds like the FASTER firearm instructors are going to have a busy few months ahead of them.