Thanks to Colorado's concealed carry laws, some Colorado teachers are taking part in a training course that will allow them to carry firearms into the classroom to protect students, according to KRDO-TV.
Activist groups, in association with the Weld County Sheriff's Department in Colorado, launched a three-day course Tuesday that is training educators not only to use firearms properly in the classroom, but also how to use trauma kits and tourniquets for those injured by knives or gunshots. So far, 17 teachers are attending the course, with 20 more reportedly on the waiting list for the next training session.
According to KRDO, The Coloradans for Civil Liberties (CLC) and the Independence Institute, both conservative activist groups in Colorado, raised the money to cover the $1,000 cost per teacher. The location of the training ground was not released, but KRDO confirmed that it is being provided by the Weld County Sheriff's Office.
While these courses are just beginning in Colorado, qualified teachers have been legally allowed to carry concealed on school grounds for years.
"There's been a provision in the law for years that allows this, but it's the first time we've taken it this far," said Laura Carno, founder of Coloradans for Civil Liberties. "Many people aren't aware that this it legal."
The provision Carno is referring to exists within Colorado's "Conceal Carry Act," which was signed into law in 2003 by then-Colorado Gov. Bill Owens.
KRDO reports that the Ohio firearms training group "Faster" arranged for the course to be provided by the Weld County Sheriff's Office. The group was founded after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut with the purpose of training teachers in weapons and tactics in order to hopefully prevent future similar shootings. Faster is utilizing local law enforcement to train the teachers, including officers who responded to the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, and the 2013 Arapahoe High School shooting.
"The gunman at Arapahoe ended up killing himself when a school resource officer was about to confront him," an unidentified responding officer at the Arapahoe shooting told KRDO. "If that hadn't happened, more lives could have been lost. We also had a breakdown in communication because the situation was so hectic, but we've learned from that."
Another unidentified officer who was present at the Aurora shooting told KRDO that a licensed carrier was at the Aurora theater the night of the shooting, but was forced to keep it in his vehicle due to a sign prohibiting weapons on the premises.
"Some of you may have to decide whether violating a local gun law outweighs ignoring it to save lives," he said to the educators.
Most schools are keeping their involvement in the training program a secret to give them an edge of any potential attackers, but Ronnie Wilson of Falcon, Colorado, did consent to be interviewed by KRDO. Wilson is starting a charter school with 700 students attending next fall, and he told KRDO that he wants to be prepared for the eventuality of trouble.
"I'm here to learn everything I can about school safety and security," Wilson said. "Crisis management is important. You have to ready for when something happens, not if. I don't know how parents feel about it, but I know they expect a response to any threat against their kids."
Faster is not only training educators, but law enforcement officers will be able to train educators who sign up for the firearm and first aid training course in the future.