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To prevent school shootings some Colorado teachers and staff turn to carrying guns

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Between 25 and 30 school teachers and staff sign up annually for training to carry and use guns on their campuses, according to a member of an organization that provides the training.

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Laura Carno, executive director of FASTER Colorado (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response), said Wednesday that the organization has provided the training since 2017, and that school employees in 37 districts have received it.

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"We'll probably have more interest after the Texas shooting," she said. "My phone is already ringing off the hook with parents wanting to know what they can do to protect their kids from such a tragedy. According to crimesearch.org, there hasn't been a shooting at a school that received the training. That's a promising trend.

The FASTER website shows that all three scheduled summer classes are already full, with only five spots remaining for the lone scheduled fall class.

FASTER: Colorado

"We've had up to 250 people participate so far," Carno said. "Most of them are those who come every year to refresh their training and keep their skill levels up. The training includes not only how to use a gun in an active shooter situation, but also medical training to treat injured victims, and learning how to prevent someone from trying to take your gun from you."

Carno said that the concept behind the training is it can take time for first responders to arrive at the scene of a school shooting -- leaving several minutes for an armed suspect to injure and kill innocent victims.

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The time lag can be even longer in rural school districts.

"The people who get the training already have concealed-carry permits and have convinced their school boards to approve allowing teachers and staff to be armed on campus," Carno said. "Not every district allows it and we'd like to see it become more common. It helps districts that may have few or no school resource officers (armed police officers, deputy or other law enforcement assigned to schools to provide security)."

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Only two districts in southern Colorado -- Hanover District 28 and Peyton District 23 -- have publicly revealed that they have armed staff on campus.

"We don't rely soley on that, though," said Tim Kistler, Peyton's superintendent. "We also have teams that focus specifically on certain areas -- such as building security, medical treatment and identifying whether a student may potentially become an active shooter threat in the future. Most schools have one or two of those teams but not all four. We haven't been tested yet and hopefully we never will be."

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However, Tom Mauer -- a board member of the gun control advocacy group Colorado Ceasefire and the father of a student killed in the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School -- said that arming teachers and school staff isn't a good idea.

"Our teachers are paid to be teachers, not security guards," he said. "There's many things that can go wrong. Like crossfire, that they could be the first ones shot."

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Technology has entered the picture; Brett Titus, who said that he's a former Denver police officer, recently developed the new LifeSpot smartphone app that he praises as being used by dozens of law enforcement agencies and school districts around the country.

LifeSpot

"This app addresses all of the challenges in responding to a school shooting situation," he said. "It gets first responders to the scene faster by establishing direct communications with school personnel about what's happening, where the shooter is, how many people are hurt, who the armed teachers are, and so on. An alert can be sent to everyone involved in six seconds."

Titus said that the app is being used by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and sever county schools.

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"Pueblo police will be getting it soon," he added. "I've had discussions with Colorado Springs police about it, but after some initial interest they said that they're not interested right now."

According to ballotpedia.org, Colorado has had nine school shootings since 1999, killing 21 people and injuring 41.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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