Ottawa Citizen

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.

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