More than 1,000 teachers and administrators from 12 states have taken a firearms course designed to protect classrooms against intruders by arming teachers, according to a CBS News report.
The program, called FASTER Saves Lives, takes the prescription for school shootings that the National Rifle Association has advocated since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and turns it into a three-day curriculum. The program is run by the the hardline Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which launched the trainings in 2015.
Courses are offered free of charge at a facility in rural Ohio.
In a CBS News segment, teachers and at least one school principal are shown navigating replica classrooms and hallways, firing away at targets and mock gunmen with blank rounds. Instructors also test participants on their ability to treat gunshot wounds.
Most participants in the video asked for their identities to be protected. At one point, the reporter asks how many carry guns, or have access to them, at their schools. Most raised their hands.
Private firearm owners are barred from bringing their guns into K-12 schools under the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act. But a handful of states either authorize school staff to be armed, have no relevant law prohibiting it, or let districts include armed teachers in their crisis response plans.
As many as 20 Colorado school districts have already designated select teachers and administrators as armed security. (A group of them underwent their own FASTER training earlier this summer.) An undisclosed number of teachers and staff have been armed in a school district 40 miles north of Dallas. A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature would pave the way for arming school employees in that state.
“It’s way more prevalent than people realize,” the superintendent of Ohio’s Mad River school district told the Dayton Daily News last month. His district, he said, is one of 63 in Ohio – out of a total of 88 – to have set up a shooting response team.
The CBS News report notes that one participant in the session hit a target that represented a student.
“We might take one,” conceded a school principal interviewed for the segment. “But we might’ve saved 30, 40 other kids.”
There are at least three more FASTER training sessions scheduled for next month.
Watch the CBS Evening News segment in its entirety here.