10 Missouri Districts Sending Staff to Concealed Weapons Training

School board members in some Missouri school districts are in favor of staff being armed with guns in case of intruders, and faculty members who volunteer to do so are sent to concealed-weapons training.

This idea has come up, says Michele Richnick writing for MSNBC, because of multiple school campus and public area rampages that have taken place in the past month.  For $17,500, the district will receive 40 hours of firearms training that last a duration of five days for two selected faculty members. The fee includes liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and compensation to instructors.

The class includes: how to handle firearms; tactical movement; history of modern shooters; how to apply a tourniquet; discretionary shooting.

“We know this isn’t a perfect fix,” lead instructor and training supervisor Don Crowley told MSNBC. “We want to level the playing field and give our school staffers a fighting chance to defend those innocent students.”

In order to graduate, participants must qualify at 90% or higher and pass a skills test.  They are also required to attend 24 hours of additional training each year.  The graduates tecnically become employees of the Shield Solutions Training School and receive a small stipend.

The” armed teachers” idea has backers who say that, especially in rural areas, getting law enforcement on campus could take too much time.  So far, teachers from 10 districts across the state have completed training in the past 18 months.  When the trainees return to school , they are anonymous, except to the administration.  Faculty is chosen for training based on: their ability to remain calm under pressure; their veteran status; their firearms experience.

Before beginning training, volunteers are assessed, fingerprinted, background-checked, evaluated psychologically, and provided with drug and alcohol training.

Since the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, where 26 individuals, 20 of whom were first-graders, died, there have been 74 school shootings, according to website Everytown for Gun Safety.

As a result, Missouri schools have implemented simulated shooter drills on their campuses, with law enforcement officers.  Since laws are not yet clear concerning this reaction, some schools have not yet begun these drills.

US Vice President Joe Biden thinks that fighting back should be a last resort, and, instead, stresses the US Department of Education’s drill ALICE - alert, lock-down, inform, counter, and evacuate.

However, in a membership poll by the Association of American Educators 91% of teachers think that an armed guard would improve school safety.  A majority of the members said that since Sandy Hook, their schools have increased safety precautions.

Shandee Ashtari, writing for the Huffington Post reports the Missouri Legislature bill passed last month permitting trained faculty members or administrators to carry concealed weapons in the classroom.  Gov. Jay Nixon has not yet signed the bill which will also lower the age requirement for carrying a concealed weapon from 21 to 19.  Jacob Kirn, reporter for the St. Louis Business-Journa, says that the governor has until mid-July to make his decision.

Crowley viewed the legislation as unnecessary, however, calling the bill a “reiteration of a law that already exists under [Missouri Revised Statutes] Chapter 571, which says concealed weapons are unlawful unless the school board or the governing body of that school district okays it.”

The new president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals opposes arming faculty saying, “…it’s a bit more than you can cover in a typical teacher in-service”.

The Missouri United School Insurance Council (MUSIC) covering more than 473 districts, community colleges and associations in the state, says that it would offer insurance for “school protection officers”.  Elise Reuter of the Kansas City Business Journal says that this decision comes after last year’s refusal by the council to offer coverage for a similar bill which was vetoed by Nixon.

“This is a very serious stance to take, as there are some risks with that,” said Mark James, MUSIC board member and chancellor of Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City.“The key decision factor was whether the school districts provided adequate documentation that the required training had been done.”

The Missouri National Education Association did not support the bill and would prefer to have trained security officers on campus to be responsible for school safety.  The MNEA added that it would not insure those trained as school protection officers.