As Colorado kids start to head back to school, some of their teachers will be hitting the classrooms after getting an education on how to effectively respond to an active shooter threat on campus over summer break. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re talking with FASTER Colorado Executive Director Laura Carno about the increased interest in armed school staff that she’s seeing around the state and even across the country in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas in May.
Carno tells Bearing Arms that at least 37 of the state’s 178 school districts already have armed school staff, and there are likely other districts that have had staff undergo training outside of the instruction offered by FASTER Colorado. More than a dozen other districts have reached out to Carno since Uvalde, despite the vocal opposition to armed school employees from anti-gun activists with groups like Moms Demand Action.
We also have plenty of anti-gun politicians like Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke who believe that the best way to protect kids is to ban guns, not arm school employees to serve as a first line of defense in case of a targeted attack on a school campus. Carno says the idea may appeal to some people in theory, but wonders if gun banners like O’Rourke would feel the same way if their loved ones were ever in a deadly situation like the one that unfolded in a classroom at Robb Elementary.
“I would ask him ‘do you want to talk now about banning certain types of firearms, or do you want somebody to be that last resort to save your children or your nieces or nephews or loved ones in that class,” said Carno, adding that she’d also ask “where in the history of armed school staff across the country have you seen any problem with it? Have you seen guns taken away from armed school staff members? Have you seen negligent discharges? Have you seen anything bad, because it’s not out there.”
Two of the biggest supporters of FASTER Colorado’s mission to train school staff to respond to an active shooting on campus know firsthand what can happen when there’s not an immediate armed response available, as Carno highlighted in a recent column.
Let’s not forget Colorado’s most recent school shooting that didn’t reach the definition of mass school shooting, and didn’t become Uvalde, but it was slated to be as deadly. On May 7, 2019, two well-armed killers (students at the school, who had a murder-suicide pact) entered Room 107 at STEM School in Highlands Ranch. They entered through the two opposing doors, secured them so no one could get in, and were prepared to execute everyone in that room. Their plan was thwarted when Kendrick Castillo, a cheerful 18-year-old senior who loved robotics and planned to go to Colorado School of Mines, jumped up and pinned one of the killers against the wall.
While Kendrick’s immediate action saved every other life in that room (others were shot, but not killed), Kendrick absorbed the shot that ended his life. He sacrificed himself to save his friends. He is a hero. The names of heroes should always be remembered, and their stories should be told to generations of children. That day, John and Maria Castillo lost their only child. The Castillos support policies of armed school staff, and John speaks to every one of our FASTER Colorado classes. The Castillos know what these armed school staff members are signing up for.
Kendrick Castillo is the spirit of what we do at FASTER Colorado. No child should ever have to make a decision to give his life to save his friends. Well-trained, armed adults should be there to save the children.
Or, you know, we could try to ban the most commonly-sold rifle in the country and hope that a committed killer can’t figure out a way to illegally acquire a weapon or doesn’t simply decide to use a handgun instead.
I know which policy I prefer to protect kids in classrooms, and clearly I’m not alone. Carno says she’s “swamped” with requests from school districts to learn more about FASTER Colorado’s training programs and how they can be a part of it, and she tells Bearing Arms that she’s been fielding calls from lawmakers in other states who are keen to pass laws in their own states that would allow any interested schools to adopt these policies and strategies as their own.