Teachers learn how to handle firearms in special training programs.
(Toledo News Now) -
After the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, the country has been in hot debate over gun control and how to protect our children. Armed teacher trainings have been popping up throughout Ohio, but the idea is as contentious as the gun control debate itself.
In the last decade, the number of school shootings in the United States has risen into double digits. Such events have caused many teachers and administrators to feel on edge when walking into their classrooms.
"After Sandy Hook, it was scary for a couple of days," said a teacher who wished to remain anonymous. "Just to visualize what I would do, how would I react? But I think thinking about it is the first step, and it is scary but it's something we have to do to prepare ourselves."
Some teachers, such as this anonymous one from Huron County, are taking action. They are attending armed teacher trainings, which are appearing all over the state. The Huron County teacher said he wanted to go to the training to familiarize himself with a gun, but he got more than that.
"They learn states of mental awareness," explained Jeff Wawrzyniak, armed teacher training instructor. "They learn observation skills, they learn how law enforcement responds to the issues in the school…and then they learn firearms training and how different firearms operate."
The teacher has a new attitude toward handling a crisis now.
"Run, hide, fight," he said. "I think that's my motto going from this point – run, then hide, then fight. And if it comes down to a situation where I have to fight, then the students are behind me."
The Attorney General's office said there are three exceptions to allowing guns in schools:
A police officer on duty
Private security employed by the school
Any other person given permission by the school board
Attorney General Mike DeWine has left it up to schools, but would support a school board decision to arm personnel.
Many superintendents are still against the idea.
"I've been pretty open to suggestions but the one thing I'm not open to is arming our personnel," said Dr. Brad Rieger, superintendent of Sylvania Schools.
Toledo Public Schools and Perrysburg Schools superintendents also said they do not want to head in that direction.
The Montpelier School board, however, has approved plans to arm some of its non-teaching employees with handguns.
"At the end of the day, it's my authority and their authority to make sure everybody comes to school in a safe environment," said Montpelier Superintendent Jamie Grime.
The instructors of the armed teacher training program said the just want to provide good training and information, but they are not advocating for changes in the law or suggesting what school districts should do.
And while the teacher from Huron County took the course, he said he hopes he never has to use the training.
"I can't envision a situation where I was carrying the firearm to school," he said. "That doesn't make me feel safe. It makes me feel nervous more than anything."