CLEVELAND– The school shooting in Parkland, Florida has some renewing calls for “armed” staff inside local schools.
Supporters maintain it can stop an active shooter before police officers arrive, but opponents say that should be left to trained police and more guns are not the answer.
In 2015, FOX 8 News went behind the scenes of a course training school staff members in using firearms and dealing with a gunman. The Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response program – or FASTER – is offered for free by the Buckeye Firearms Association.
Over the last five years, it has trained 1,300 staff members from 225 districts across 12 states, according to Rick Kaleda with the Buckeye Firearms Association.
“We’ve found that these killers are cowards, typically almost as soon as they’re confronted, they surrender,” Kaleda said.
He said an armed school employee could potentially save lives before police arrive, though the organization is not aware of any of its trainees being put in that position to date.
“It prepares the people who are already on the scene so they are equipped to do exactly what needs to be done,” he said. “The killing needs to be stopped. Medical attention needs to be provided.”
There is no state oversight or legislation related to armed school staff or their training in Ohio, and the state does not track which districts have armed employees. Ohio law prohibits guns on school grounds, unless a district authorizes individuals to carry. Each school district board of education can determine its own training requirements under its confidential safety plan.
“It’s almost like the Wild West,” said Ohio Representative Bill Patmon, a Democrat who represents portions of Cleveland.
Patmon, who has proposed more than a dozen gun control measures and an initiative to require metal detectors in all schools, said he opposes armed school staff.
“The more well-armed our society is, the more we have to deal with these incidents,” Patmon said, noting that staff members with guns could create confusion for first responders in an active shooter situation.
“One, I don’t think that that’s the answer, training teachers who have been trained all of their lives to be educators,” Patmon said. “Two, you have to have oversight of something that puts a child in danger on a day to day basis.”
However, FASTER continues to gain popularity in light of school shootings.
“What we’re trying to do is give them the tools to save the children’s lives,” Kaleda said.