Gun group offers training for Utah teachers

Jessica Fiveash sees nothing wrong with arming teachers. She's one herself, and learned Thursday how to safely use her 9 mm Ruger with a laser sight.
Associated Press
Dec 30, 2012

"If we have the ability to stop something, we should do it," said the elementary school teacher, who along with nearly 200 other teachers in Utah took six hours of free gun training offered by the state's leading gun lobby.

It is among the latest efforts to arm or train teachers to confront assailants after a gunman killed his mother and then went on a rampage through Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six adults before killing himself.

In Ohio, a firearms group said it was launching a test program in tactical firearms training for 24 teachers. In Arizona, the attorney general is proposing a change to state law that would allow an educator in each school to carry a gun.

The moves to train teachers come after the National Rifle Association proposed placing an armed officer at each of the nation's schools, though some schools already have police officers. Parents and educators have questioned how safe the proposal would keep kids and whether it would be economically feasible.

Some educators say it is dangerous to allow guns on campus. Among the potential dangers they point to are teachers being overpowered for their weapons or students getting them and accidentally or purposely shooting classmates.

"It's a terrible idea," said Carol Lear, a chief lawyer for the Utah Office of Education. "It's a horrible, terrible, no-good, rotten idea."

Kristen Rand, the legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy organization, said to believe that a "teacher would be successful in stopping someone who has made the decision to engage in a shootout is just not rationale."

"No teacher is ever going to be as effective as a trained law enforcement officer," Rand said. Even trained police officers don't always hit their targets, and arming teachers could put innocent students at risk of crossfire, she said.

Gun-rights advocates say teachers can act more quickly than law enforcement in the critical first few minutes to protect children from the kind of deadly shooting that took place in Connecticut. They emphasized the importance of reacting appropriately under pressure.

"We're not suggesting that teachers roam the halls" looking for an armed intruder, said Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, the state's biggest gun lobby. "They should lock down the classroom. But a gun is one more option if the shooter" breaks into a classroom.

The group waived its $50 fee for the training. Instruction featured plastic guns and emphasized that people facing deadly threats should announce or show their gun and take cover before trying to shoot. They cautioned teachers about the liability that comes with packing a gun in public.

"It's going to be a hassle. It's another responsibility. You can't just leave your gun lying around," Aposhian said. "Not for a minute."

The teachers at the basic gun training applied for a concealed-weapons permit, submitting fingerprints and a mug shot for a criminal background check. The class kicked off as an instructor in the "psychology of mass violence" offered various tactics to disrupt an assailant.

The first, the instructor said, was to start with the command: "Stop right there!"

"I wouldn't hesitate to shoot if the danger was immediate," said Fiveash, adding that her laser sight would make shooting in tight quarters safer.

English teacher Kevin Leatherbarrow said he often felt threatened while working at an inner-city school in Buffalo, N.Y., where he got a license to carry a pistol. He moved less than a year ago to Utah, where he feels safer. But he said gun violence can break out anywhere.

Leatherbarrow said he was highly trained in handling guns — and was taking criticism from parents who don't appreciate his views on school safety.

"I'm in agreement not everybody should be carrying firearms in school. They're not trained. But for some parents to think we're cowboys, that frustrates me," he said. "I wish parents would understand."

In the U.S., the number of homicides at schools of children, ages 5-18, have been lower year-by-year in the 2000s than they were in the mid- to late-1990s, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report on school crime released in 2012. At 32 deaths, the 2006-2007 school year was the only one that reached the levels from the 1990s. The manner of death was not listed.

Utah is among a few states that let people carry licensed concealed weapons into public schools without exception, the National Conference of State Legislatures says in a 2012 compendium of state gun laws.

Utah educators say they would ban guns if they could, but legislators left them with no choice. State law forbids schools, districts or college campuses from imposing their own gun restrictions.

Educators say they have no way of knowing how many teachers are armed. Gun-rights advocates estimate 1 percent of Utah teachers, or 240, are licensed to carry concealed weapons. It's not known how many do so at school.

"I never felt threatened in 14 years of teaching, but I don't think you can be too prepared," said Tiffany Parry, a dance teacher in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy who applied for Thursday for a license to carry a concealed gun. "I think it could come in handy."




The Register must be low on their hit count. Otherwise why would they post news that other outlets had on Thursday on a topic like this? You are correct, to generate comments and anger among the commenters. All the while driving up their hit count so that they can tell their advertisers how many hits this site gets. Next look for some generic story on Obama and the fiscal cliff. Sadly, I added increased their numbers by clicking on this link...

Nothing generates return views and comments like stories about guns or politics. Sadly, it also brings out the nut-jobs on both sides as well.


This really isn't news. Utah has been doing this for about 15 yrs. In fact Utah and Kansas are the only two states that allow ccw in schools. Guess what folks, the proof is on the pudding, not a single school shooting in either of these states. Having lived for nearly a decade in Utah, I can tell you that quite a few teachers and administrators carry and the vast majority of parents polled in that state have no problem with it. What a bunch of liberal blissninny's in Ohio think about what goes on there isn't gonna change anything.


You can always cherry pick facts to try to make your case. You have chosen the one that says that out of over 25,000 teachers in Utah, there are an estimated 240 of them strapping, and that has prevented any school shootings.

I could choose some other facts that make just as good a case for the lack of school shootings. Maybe it is the fact that over 60% of the population is Mormon. Oh wait, I know why there are no school shootings in Utah. It is because Utah is #1 in online pornography consumption! All the crazies are so mellowed out from watching all that porn that they have no desire to shoot up a school. Yeah, thats it.

My facts are just as valid as yours.


So in these states that allow ccw's in public schools , a person who has a ccw and is not employed by the school can walk right in without any problem ? I don't know , seems like a can of worms to me . What about non-lethal weapons ?

The Big Dog's back

We will have the shootout at the OK Corral. Who cares about Collateral damage.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

The Big Dog's back

Shooting at a range is totally different than shooting a person.


o let's use your logic and apply it to police and military. Both learn by practicing firearms tactics on a range. Please give us an arbitrary number of REAL kills that they should have before being permitted to enter a school with a firearm? Using your logic (or lack the thereof) you should have a number in mind. Now go ahead and whine to the mods so you can have this post removed.

The Big Dog's back

The military are trained killers. Police are in a totally different situation than a teacher.

Dr. Information

Show up to my house and try to break in and I'll show you real quick how a non military person could kill real easy, with no remorse. I know many people, teachers, that faced with potential death could point and shoot to protect them and their kids in their classroom.


You'll shoot your eye out , kid ; )))))


Ok,tough guy, you are the best argument against guns.

Dr. Information

Did I hurt your feelings? What, now you liberals are telling me I can't protect my home against a thief? Oh wow, you guys, you just can't win with you. Like talking to a wall.

I know a lot of people who post that would be a good argument for abortion...hummmmmmmmmmm


you people have been saying this for as long as i can remember and it's never happened. quit getting your history from movies and do some research, and educate yourself, i know it's easier to spout useless information and made up tidbits, but you only hurt your cause.


What can of worms would that be? As I said of above, this is nothing new in Utah. Anyone with a CCW can carry a handgun into a school, and teachers are permitted to carry on their person at work. It has been this way for 15 yrs and not a single incident of a school shooting or a CCW holder shooting an inoccent bystander. The facts go completely against big dogs theory. In fact, the gun homicide rates in states that have the strictest gun control laws are routinely the highest in the nation. Those are the facts, feel free to look them up.


Why should we look up your "facts" when you ignore our "facts"? Two countries with the strictest gun control laws have eliminated all mass killings. I have posted this in several stories here and the posts get ignored by the mentally unstable gun owners and NRA supporters. Stop spouting off useless NRA non-facts and pay attention to what's going on around you. Both Australia and Japan did it right and it's working. Before you start about China once again - there is a huge difference between guns and knives. And Japan outlawed swords as well. With some exceptions, of course.


so 23 people dead in china with the same gun control laws in japan... i do think that's relevant.

and what's the difference between mass murder and singular murder other than the numbers? 23 people dead in one instance and 23 people dead in 23 instances are still 23 people dead...

and no, a tool used to kill someone is just that, a tool. whether it be a knife, a sword, a gun, or a guitar string, if it's used to kill someone it can't be left out of the discussion...

i really fail to see how you can blindly and blithely say the facts can count in one area and not the other... it's quite hilarious really.

the above link, because i know you don't like to read logic for yourself, is about a mass shooting in japan in 2001, and others that happened in recent history... so again... you have no idea what you're talking about.


I never mentioned China in my post. You never answered anything other than some more stupidity. Let's use your logic - 23 people killed in one instance is the same as 23 people killed independently. You are right - but that is only a good comparison if there was only ONE mass killing here in the US.


You should move to Japan or Australia if It's so much better and quit trying to trample on my rights. One day some body with a ccw may save your life.


It's far more likely someone with a ccw with accidentally kill themselves, the gun will be used by a family member for suicide, or the attacker will use your gun against you. I know that would never happen to you, your far to tough for that but everyone else, Im talking about.


You are SO totally right, Sanduskysteve! Without guns, mass killings just don't happen. In fact, I thank the gods every day that Timothy McVeigh didn't have a nasty assault rifle in his hands so that little children or innocent workers wouldn't die when he and his partner went off their mental rails!


they were gun nuts too.


As far as I know, McVeigh was the only on ethat used that method. So, that's 1 to --- what? How many with guns?? Stop comparing apples to oranges.

DEEPsix's picture

The SR needS to add a photo of former MILITARY personnel who are now TEACHERS and have urban warfare training... NOT A PICTURE OF SOME HOUSEWIFE, TEACHERS AIDE HOLDING A GUN!!! More than 35% of all teachers who will receive certs to carry in Utah schools HAVE SERVED ACTIVE DUTY, IN LAST TEN YRS... SO, post the real story.


Maybe if she had it cocked sideways GANGSTA style everyone would feel better about arming teachers . ; )))))


Lol. They probably would considering holding it in that manner increases the odds of the shooter not hitting anything.


Don't get me wrong , I have nothing against people being allowed to ccw . I just don't think it would work everywhere in the U.S. My question has always been , why does the average citizen need to have anti-personnel weaponry ? If those types of weapons weren't available to the general population ,these horrible tragedies wouldn't happen in the first place. Come on ! If you design and make a weapon to kill multiple people,quickly and then sell them to the public , isn't that just asking for these incidents to happen ?


During the years of the first assault weapon ban, the number of mass shootings was significantly more than we've had in the years since the ban expired.


Proof please.

Dr. Information

Not significantly but they did go up. Realize that rifles are used the least in gun violence.