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."




Absolutely, anything FNC says MUST be right. They were spot on when Obama won the election. Their ratings are dropping like flies as well as the radio jerks behind them. finally people might be waking up. I think it is more like the GOP is falling apart right before their eyes.


@sanduskysteve. Well I just googled this and your comment is actually totally wrong. As of Jan 3rd, Fox News leads darn near every category and every time slot in ratings. Also, if you read the link Dr. provided, Fox News obtained its numbers from other sources, and links are provided in the reading.

Mr Bean

Amazing, seems those people in Utah are smarter than we thought---240 armed teachers, huh, not likely to be any Newtown type incidents there. How about Kennesaw, Georgia? 25 years without a firearm death*,[strange] grown from 3,000 to 20,000 during that time,[strange], 25 years with a law on the books which REQUIRES that every household have a firearm, and be trained to use it responsibility, [strange].

* No murders, no intruder shootings, no accidental,[strange]


I just looked at Kennesaw , Ga website and their crime stats and have come to the conclusion that they ain't no Mayberry .


So it has come down to comparing a town in today's society to a mythical town on TV from fifty years ago????? So sad, so very sad!!!


Yes , it is sad to make Kennesaw Ga. sound like perfect town USA when it's not .


Not sad, every town has crime you want to compare Sandusky's track record with gun related crime versus Kennesaw's


Hmmmm - so you believe that as long as the number of killings by gun is lower, then it's acceptable? We are still above Japan close to 1000 to 1. Why is that? We are thousands of times bigger than Japan?? Don't think that's going to fly with me either.


Yes, and statistically speaking, Japan is WAY ahead of us in suicides. Why? Culture, culture culture. I'd also note that when Canada instituted strict gun laws, the suicide rate didn't change. At all. The METHOD of suicide changed, but not the numbers. In short, it ain't the guns. It's the man or woman pulling the trigger.

Meanwhile, although people can kill themselves by jumping off a high place or taking too many pills, it's super hard to force a home invader to do those things! A gun in the hands of a good guy (or gal) continues to be the only equalizer when it comes to an attack by somebody who's armed, or who's just a lot bigger and stronger (and often more desperate) than you are!


I was replying to Mr Bean 's comment about Kennesaw Ga . No comparisons to Sandusky were ever issued . And my point WAS that ALL towns have crime . Read all the comments and don't just pick and choose , please .


You were not, you were trying to discredit his post, please reread his post. A typical liberal ploy. Mr. Bean never said that Kennesaw wasn't free of crime, just gun related!!!!


Yes , I was checking facts . A Liberal ploy the rightwingers have little use for ; ooooo !!!


It appears goofus has uncovered a liberal conspiracy here in the posts. Goofus, do you think it's government related?


Wow if you want to defend your students you should be allowed to carry! Proper traing background checks equals possibly saving the life of your child. I believe guns should be carried in school and on buses.


I agree , with Big Dog , this isn't range shooting . If a teacher is busy doing their job and suddenly someone bursts into the room and starts spraying the class with bullets , who do you think they are going to aim at first ,logically speaking ? The teacher . With the element of surprise , just how many seconds does this teacher have to react and pull their gun , or cross the room to a more then likely locked drawer and retrieve their weapon , if they don't have it on them ? Unless they are pointing the gun at the assailant as they are coming through the door , it will still be a massacre .


Pretty gruesome scenario, even from a liberal. However the fact that a student knows that the teacher is armed might be a deterrent from you liberal gruesome event from happening. An armed teacher is not meant to be a Rambo type person but to get a student to think of the consequences.


Would you prefer a sugar coated version where the teacher jumps through the air in slow motion , firing off perfect shots while doves fly across background explosions ? What do you think this is , a John Woo movie ? By the way, who says that the assailant has to be a student?


Once again you fantasize about an evil scenario. By the way who is John Woo?? LOL


Evil scenarios , that have come to pass . John Woo , director , famous for his stylish action movies like Mission Impossible 2 , and Face Off . Now you know.


So you admit movies are alot to blame in the recent shootings!
Excuse me for chuckling, but I never heard of John Woo.


Movies , games , the stock market , the weather , or just waking up on the wrong side of the bed . Who knows ? We all have our breaking points.

Dr. Information

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


Who said all the weapons circulating in America are of American design or origin? You sure like to run with it don't you Doc . Heck , you can go on the internet a see how to convert some weapons to full auto . And no it isn't the weapons fault . I have said I believe in the right to protect one 's self , but apparently missed that comment .


Sounds like a great plan - just train them better than the cops - I understand there were two cops firing at 2 dogs getting closer to them while they were firing and they only managed to hit one of them and instead hit a bystander in the foot. No this was not SPD this time, but the same thing applies. Take a look at how well Cleveland cops can shoot. What was it now, 137 shots fired and only a couple hit their target?? It's a wonder someone else standing nearby didn't get hit by one of those as well. I'm not sure guns belong in schools - and certainly not sure cops should have them there.


again statistically more likely to be shot accidentally by cop than CCWer. Glad you agree


Two Utah students did plot to blow up a school though.


Sounds like at least one teenager had good parenting!!! How many plots are uncovered daily oh know it all liberal????


just because i'm obviously a better researcher than these loons at the register... this is also being offered in Ohio... and i say good. now if we can get them to let teachers carry in Ohio things might turn out better if this ever happens again.


'THERE WILL BE RESISTANCE' And people wonder why gun sales are going through the roof with some companies backordering some popular models!!!! People aren't stupid, they might have thought that this is america and Obozo deserves a second chance, but you don't go for my guns!!!!


WOW !! Talk about fantasizing evil scenarios !!! 8 P )))