Colorado Teachers Get Advanced Gun Training

Kelly Blake, agricultural education teacher at Fleming School, learns how to protect herself from an attack with the help of local police officer Graham Dunne.
Kelly Blake, agricultural education teacher at Fleming School, learns how to protect herself from an attack with the help of local police officer Graham Dunne. photo from npr.comweb photo

As the nation grapples with the very concept of self-defense, more than a dozen teachers in Colorado recently spent three days learning advanced gun skills so that they may better protect their students.

The women took the classes at a shooting range outside of Denver, according to this story from npr.org.

"I don't have any children of my own," says Kelly Blake, "so these students are my children." Blake is an agricultural education teacher at Fleming School in Colorado's eastern plains. She says she attended the advanced training, learning shooting accuracy, efficiency and gun safety, because she wants to make sure her students are "protected at all times."

A group called FASTER (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response) sponsored the training. Each participant received about $1,000 scholarship from Coloradans for Civil Liberties, a second amendment rights group.

To many across the country, the idea of having guns in schools, even to protect students, is absurd. That includes the ACLU, as we reported in this story earlier this year—but in a state like Colorado, where there are many rural schools, even the police say it comes down to a simple matter of practicality and time.

"To be realistic, from a police officer perspective, we simply are not going to be there in time," said Graham Dunne in the story. Dunne is a local police officer who attended the FASTER event and lent a hand.

A search with Google Maps shows that some schools in Colorado are between 30 and 45 minutes away from the nearest police presence if an emergency situation should arise.

The training teachers received stressed tactics, such as how to round corners when possibly engaging a shooter, and even instruction on how to tend to a gunshot wound, the story says.

The classes focused on some of he higher-level questions associated with potentially confronting an active shooter: “do these educators, who normally work as caretakers, have the right mindset to kill a shooter? What if the shooter is a student?”

In the story, one teacher openly worried about carrying concealed around young students, who often hug her in the morning.

"To have these little hands touching that gun, I just don't see how that would mix well with school," said Rachel Barnes of Denver who teaches Kindergarten through second grade, in the story.

One teacher, who chose to remain anonymous, responded to the concern by saying, “My wardrobe has changed a little bit. I’ve found what conceals well, what doesn’t, what’s comfortable.”

She has carried concealed in her classroom for more than two years and says the possibility of having to shoot someone is her worst nightmare, the story says.

"I do understand that. And can I desensitize myself and say, 'Yes, I will handle this correctly?' I hope I can never answer that question for you," she said in the story.

She added that carrying a gun is worth it to protect her 20 students.

Currently, the following states require schools to allow licensed concealed carriers to be armed: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The following states allow individual schools to decide whether or not to allow faculty and/or staff to be armed: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

FASTER was formed soon after the horrific shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

From the group's website: "Created by concerned parents, law enforcement, and nationally-recognized safety and medical experts, FASTER is a groundbreaking, nonprofit program that gives educators practical violence response training. Classes are provided at NO COST to your school district."