Debate escalates over teachers carrying weapons in Colorado schools

DENVER -- Mass school shootings and online threats are being carried out at an alarming rate. So the push for more teachers to be armed in Colorado classrooms is on the rise.

Coloradans for Civil Liberties, which trains school faculty in active shooter situations, said arming staff enables them to save lives through prompt action.

But the Colorado Education Association said more guns in schools is not the answer.

“I’m hearing from staff that 'If I’m required to carry a gun I will absolutely leave the profession,'" said Amie Baca-Oehlert, vice president of the Colorado Education Association.

Baca-Oehlert is head of the Colorado teachers' union and fears this interest of having school staff carry could make the state’s teacher shortage even worse.

“Educators go into their profession of education to nurture students' curiosity and creativity and their desire to learn -- not to be police officers,” Baca-Oehlert said.

Laura Carno, director of Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response believes this training will put a stop to school shootings.

Coloradans for Civil Liberties brought FASTER training to Colorado last year after training 1,300 school staff in Ohio.

“The faster you stop the killer, the faster you stop the bleeding, the fewer people die,” Carno said.

In the wake of the violence at schools across the nation, more Colorado schools are signing up to arm their staff.

Last year, Carno trained 17 teachers in five school districts in Colorado.

“We’re not trying to turn them into police officers, but in that one very narrow skill set of stopping an active killer, we are absolutely looking for them to be as good as a police officer," Carno said.

Some of the training includes a psychological exam and staff must qualify at the shooting range with 100 percent accuracy annually.

“There’s definitely a deterrent component here," Carno said. "If somebody wants to go into a campus and commit mass murder, if they think they’re going to be stopped before they can fulfill their goal, that may be a deterrent."

The teachers' union said alternative ways must be found to keep students safe.

“We’re talking about a lot of different solutions. Let's talk about how we’re funding for mental health support for our schools and our students," Baca-Oehlert said.

"To answer violence with violence -- all you’re going to get is more tragedy or more violence."

Baca-Oehlert also said another concern with this, is funding.

How would districts afford to pay for insurance liability and training when they currently don’t have enough funding to support some of the basic needs of public schools.