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Interest in armed school staff soaring in Colorado

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The last time FASTER Colorado’s founder Laura Carno joined us on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co it was shortly after the shootings at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, and Carno told us that the horrific incident had prompted a number of school districts around the state to reach out and learn more about their training for armed school staff. On today’s program, Carno tells Bearing Arms that the recent shootings at Covenant School in Nashville has resulted in an even larger surge in demand for FASTER Colorado’s services, with about three times as many districts reaching out over the past month than in the weeks after Uvalde.

FASTER Colorado has been around for seven years, inspired by the FASTER Saves Lives program implemented several years earlier in Ohio by the Buckeye Firearms Association. During that time hundreds of educators and school staffers from dozens of schools across the state of Colorado have taken part in the group’s training sessions; many of them from rural districts where a dedicated school resource officer may not be an option given police staffing issues and school budgets.

But Carno says she’s seeing interest even among districts that do have the resources to provide for an armed school resource officer, which is a very good thing. As she points out, the goal is to stop an attack as quickly as possible, and a uniformed officer on campus may not be in a position to provide an immediate response if a targeted attack on a school takes place. Having armed school staff in place helps to reduce a response time from minutes to seconds, saving lives in the process.

Carno also dispelled several myths about armed school staff during our conversation, starting with the claim by anti-gun activists that armed teachers or staff members could end up using their lawfully-carried guns to hurt students. Carno’s heard all kinds of outlandish scenarios from the gun control lobby over the years, including the prospect of a teacher shooting a student during an argument about grades, but just as we don’t see stories about teachers punching students in the face over disputes about homework, armed school staffers are not whipping out their guns every time a student pushes back on their grades.

Carno also says it’s important to remember that not every school employee carrying a firearm to protect the students under their care are actually classroom teachers. About 40% of the staff that undergo FASTER Colorado instruction are working in a classroom setting, but Carno says the organization has also taught school nurses, counselors, superintendents, front office staff, and even lunch ladies how to serve as a first line of defense for students.

Another myth: that the instruction these staffers receive is all about shooting to stop a threat. While range time is absolutely a major part of FASTER Colorado’s focus, Carno says that instructors are also teaching de-escalation techniques that can prevent a shooting from taking place without having to pull the trigger of their own firearm.

And unlike school resource officers, armed school staffers are not serving as law enforcement officers on the job. They’re not patting down students, searching for drugs, or making arrests on campus. Instead, they’re going about their normal job duties. Only if there’s an active threat on campus do these staffers switch into guardian mode, willing and able to protect the kids on campus with deadly force if necessary.

Carno and the FASTER Colorado trainers are truly doing life-saving work, and I’m so glad to see so many districts are taking an interest in providing another layer of security to their campuses. If you want to learn more about FASTER Colorado you can do so here, and you can also support their efforts with a donation. FASTER Colorado strives to make the training they provide free of charge as often as possible through the use of scholarships and donor support, so show them some love if you can and be sure to check out my entire conversation with Laura Carno in the video window below.

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