SHARONVILLE, Ohio - A new program created by the Buckeye Firearms Association, a member of the pro-gun lobby, will send 24 Ohio teachers and administrators to a tactical training course this spring.
The course would instruct a teacher, licensed to carry a concealed handgun, how to confront and potentially neutralize a would-be mass shooter.
"You look at the situation in Sandy Hook, the principal, she walked up and confronted this guy with nothing except for hope," said Joe Eaton, a spokesperson for the BFA.
"She still went ahead and did that. We need to give our teachers and administrators any tools they need to keep our children alive out there. They should be able to do something besides walking up and dying," continued Eaton.
The BFA says more than 700 teachers and administrators have volunteered to be one of the first 24 students to attend the training course.
According to the BFA, more than 40 percent of those teachers already have licenses to carry concealed firearms.
"We are not asking these teachers to do any more than they already do to protect themselves and their family," Eaton said. "We think they should be able to do the same thing while on the job."
Eaton argues that the reason mass shooters target malls, schools and movie theaters is that they are generally "gun free" zones and that the shooters are confident they won't face armed resistance.
The foundation has agreed to completely cover the cost of training the first class of 24 participants. That will include tuition, ammunition and lodging, totaling about $1,000 per participant.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he believes the decision to arm teachers should be left to local school boards. Ohio law gives those boards the authority to allow individuals to bring weapons on school campuses.
"The truth is that, while we train first responders, the real first responders in these tragedies are teachers," DeWine said. "They're the ones who are there. They're the ones who are going to make the life-and-death decisions. They're the ones that are doing to do what they can do to save lives."
Patricia Frost-Brooks, president of the Ohio Education Association is strongly opposed to the idea.
"Instead of arming educators, they can enhance school safety with more counselors, better mental health services and partnering with local police to deter violence in schools," said Frost-Brooks.
The BFA says roughly two dozen of these 700 or more volunteers have the blessing and support of their local school boards.
Eaton declined to disclose the names of those districts.
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