Update: Since this article was published, the Arkansas Attorney General has ruled that it is against the law to arm teachers in schools. The school district, police and Attorney General’s office are continuing to work on a solution. We’ll keep you posted as to the final decision.
You’ve probably seen the headlines on the AP wire about a small number of teachers being trained to carry concealed weapons in schools to help protect their school from becoming the next Sand Hook massacre site. Most densely populated states have regulations that prohibit school employees and security guards from carrying weapons on school property. For example, California requires specialized training for security professionals who work on school campuses. However, low population states usually don’t have legislation in place about whether or not armed security officers are allowed in schools.
Such is the case with Arkansas. It doesn’t prohibit licensed armed security guards from being in schools. It doesn’t prohibit teachers from carrying guns as long as the teachers are properly trained and licensed. Clarksville about 100 miles northwest of Little Rock has decided that the most cost effective why to provide extra security for its students and school staff is to arm its staff. Hiring police or private security guards to stand watch during school hours including after school activities is expensive. The reasoning is that the money can be spent on education, which is the main goal of school, instead of on security, which hopefully is never needed. Each of the 20 staff members will get $1,100 to buy their 9mm handgun and a holster. Training and ammunition are budgeted at around $50,000. Whether or not the district will see higher insurance premiums is not known.
This site lists the training and licensing requirements to become an armed guard in Arkansas. Armed guards require 9 hours of training comprised of 7 courses plus taking a written test. Armed guards also need fingerprinting, back ground checks and to pass a range firing test. Because of the serious nature of arming the 20 school staff members, the district is requiring even more training for these concealed weapon carrying staff. The staff will take 53 hours of training and become licensed to carry their concealed 9mm handguns. Part of the staff training is an active shooter scenario at the school in which the trainees fire airsoft pellet guns at student volunteers wearing protective gear.
The 53 hours of training is for Active School Shooter Emergency Response Team Training (ASSERT Training) was specifically developed for training school staff on how to respond to an active shooter at a school scenario. This makes the school staff the first responders; they don’t have to wait for police to arrive to respond to the shooter. The staff is trained to make a quick assessment and respond in multiple ways under extreme stress. This type of training can also be used for churches, businesses and community gathering places. Part of the training will also be to train the unarmed staff how to respond and work with the armed staff.