In the wake of last week’s shooting at a high school in Spokane, Washington, CBS Evening News decided to look into the issue of whether or not educators should be allowed to arm themselves in the schools.
Reporter Nikki Battiste found one group in rural Ohio called FASTER Saves Lives that has trained more than 1,000 educators from 12 states. The three-day program is free and funded by donations from pro-Second Amendment groups. The group began after the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
Battiste spoke with one elementary school principal who said that hitting the mock gunman targets is preparation for protecting his students.
“When I walk down the halls I actually think about where I would go, how would I react,” he said.
She also spoke with a middle school teacher who carries her 9-millimeter handgun on her during class.
“You have to know the important thing is to eliminate the threat, and do that at all costs,” she said.
Battiste pointed out that eight states allow kindergarten through 12th-grade school staff who have a concealed carry license to be armed, and in the 40 states that prohibit firearms in schools, many have a loophole that can allow them.
For Abbey Clements, whose 19 students survived the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary, the thought of teachers being armed horrifies her.
“Never in a million years would I have guessed that one response to what happened in our town would be to arm teachers,” Clements said. “It’s absurd … God, can you imagine if children were hurt by you in that situation? How would you live with yourself?”
That was a perfect segue to what Battiste reported next during the FASTER course–where an educator’s bullet strikes a student — played out in a simulated classroom. That educator, an elementary school principal said that mistake does not make him second-guess his choice to have a gun in school.
“It’s an accident, we might take one, but we might have saved 30, 40 other kids,” he said.
Clements says that she understands that parents are afraid and why some may support guns in schools.
“I’m afraid, too,” she said. “We have a problem with gun violence in this country, but more guns is not the answer.”
Battiste closed the segment saying that the director of the training that CBS News observed told her that all participants must pass the same firearms test required to become a police officer in Ohio, which is “only” 80 percent accuracy, but that the FASTER course requires 90 percent accuracy and that 30 educators have failed the course.
Despite the high accuracy rate and low failure rate, the report left viewers with the impression that the program was nothing more than a way to give pro-Second Amendment educators an excuse to carry their weapons in class.