Boone County debates arming teachers in classrooms

BURLINGTON, Ky. – School shootings have stunned and devastated communities around the nation, but they’ve also shined a light on a very important question: How can we better protect our children?

Boone County Constable Joe Kalil presented his P.O.S.T. program at the Boone County Public Library Wednesday night to address that question. His answer: arming teachers.

While presenting his P.O.S.T. program, which stands for "protecting our students and teachers," Kalil said arming faculty members will save lives.

"Instead of having a 'no gun' sign on the front of the door of a school, which actually tells the gunman that nobody there is actually capable of protecting themselves, we want a sign that says, 'Teachers and staff in this school are trained and armed,’" Kalil said. “We think that sign alone will prevent the attack from happening."

Kalil said he created his training program after the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that ended with 28 people dead, including 20 children.

If the Boone County School Board adopts his program, it will allow teachers to carry a weapon after they pass a background check and complete five-and-a-half days of training.

Kalil, who owns the company Defensive Handgun Training, LLC. in Boone County, said he is an experienced gun advocate.

But he said his program has nothing to do with his company profiting.

"I've not even mentioned the name of my company. I'm not going to now because it's irrelevant,” he said. “At no point has there ever been a suggestion that my company, which is a firearm training school, be involved in this program."

Several parents at Wednesday’s meeting said they are in favor of arming teachers.

Leah Sansoucy, who has five children in Boone County schools, said she supports it.

As does Brian Saylor, whose son is in middle school.

"It is kind of dangerous, but I feel if they're trained right… it would make it a good deal," Saylor said.

However, not everyone at the meeting agreed with Kalil’s program.

Bill Turner, a former Boone County teacher of 27 years, said he thinks it’s a bad idea.

“Is there a faculty member that can handle it? Maybe,” Turner said. “But they're gonna’ need more than two weeks training at a rifle range."

Every high school and middle school in Boone County has an armed resource officer.

Turner said he thinks that is enough.

"There could be a teacher out there – retired military, retired policeman – that I certainly could trust,” he said. “But on the whole, most teachers are not equipped for that job.”

Boone County Sheriff Mike Helmig, Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn, Grant County Sheriff Chuck Dills and Campbell County Sheriff Jeff Kidwell also presented at the event Wednesday night in support of Kalil’s program.

A spokesman for the Boone County School District said the superintendent is not commenting on the issue at this time.

Three of five Boone County School Board members would have to vote yes for the program to be approved, so the final decision lies in their hands.

Karen Byrd, one of those school board members, said the program is still conceptual and has never been implemented.

"That's what they're looking to do is to implement it," Byrd said. "So 'whose kids are the guinea pigs is what they're asking, and that is the decision we have to consider as we hear our safety committee's report on March 6."

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