In response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 that left 20 children and six staff members dead, some school districts in Missouri have started training teachers to carry concealed weapons in classrooms.
For a $17,500 fee, districts that opt in to the 40-hour program receive training for two staffers from current law enforcement officers through the Shield Solutions training school. Teachers are required to spend five hours in a classroom and 35 hours on the range with the required firearm, a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol. Ten districts have undergone the training thus far, with three more having signed contracts and even more in negotiations, according to The Kansas City Star.
After completing the program, qualified teachers then technically become Shield Solutions employees and receive a "nominal stipend," Don Crowley, training supervisor for Shield Solutions, told The Huffington Post on Monday.
"They become an employee of Shield Solutions in that if they are called upon to dispatch a threat, then that is when they hold a duty to Shield Solutions to do so," Crowley explained.
Moreover, only school district administrators, fellow program members and local law enforcement will be privy to the identities of the teachers trained to carry concealed weapons.
In an effort to avoid harming the wrong students, teachers will also be armed with a special type of bullet designed to lodge inside the first body it makes contact with.
Young school children will also be prohibited from hugging their teachers if they are carrying concealed weapons in order to avoid detection of the firearm.
“Kids in elementary age like to hug their teachers, but students cannot put their hands on you,” Crowley added. “They can knuckle bump, they can shake hands, but hugs are no longer appropriate.”
Since Sandy Hook, at least 74 school shootings have occurred, averaging more than one each week that school was in session.
In response, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill last month permitting trained teachers or administrators to carry concealed weapons in the classroom. The bill, which awaits Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) signature, would also lower the age requirement for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19.
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.”
Several states have approved similar legislation, despite opposition from many school administrators.
G.A. Buie, principal of Eudora High School in Kansas and president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, opposes arming teachers.
“We would be asking school officials, trained as educators, to make a quick transition from teacher to SWAT member, arrive on the scene, assess the situation, overcome the severe nervousness that naturally accompanies a deadly force incident and take immediate action before blood is shed,” he told the Star on Sunday. “It’s a bit more than you can cover in a typical teacher in-service.”