Gun training offered to Utah teachers
‘Terrible idea,’ says state education lawyer
SALT LAKE CITY • U.S. teacher Kevin Leatherbarrow holds a licence to carry a concealed weapon and doesn’t see anything wrong with arming teachers in the aftermath of the deadly Connecticut school shooting.
“You don’t have a chance in hell,” said Leatherbarrow. “You’re dead.”
Gun-rights advocates agree and were offering six hours of training Thursday in handling concealed weapons for 200 Utah teachers in the latest effort to arm teachers.
In Ohio, a firearms group said it was launching a test program in tactical firearms training for 24 teachers. The Arizona attorney general is proposing a change to state law to allow an educator in each school to carry a gun.
The moves come after the country’s most powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, proposed placing an armed officer at each of the nation’s schools.
The NRA offered its much-criticized proposal after President Barack Obama demanded “real action, right now” on gun violence. He asked Vice-President Joe Biden to lead a group that is expected to offer suggestions that Obama can send to Congress in January.
Emotions have been high since a gunman on Dec. 14 killed 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, shooting each victim multiple times with a high-powered rifle, some at close range. The children were aged six and seven. The gunman, Adam Lanza, got the gun from his mother, a gun enthusiast and his first victim.
There are already police officers in some of the nation’s 98,000 schools. Parents and educators, however, have questioned how safe the NRA proposal would keep kids, whether it would be economically feasible and how it would alter student life.
Some educators say it is dangerous to allow guns. Among the dangers 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.”
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 one per cent of Utah teachers, or 240, are licensed to carry concealed weapons.