Children are being murdered in their schools while politicians trade talking points and campaign promises about school safety. Our children are neither partisans nor political chess pieces. What can we do to keep our children safe while politicians jockey for position in back rooms? Representatives from Coloradans for Civil Liberties met some heroes who found a solution that saves lives. Here is what they found.
On December 14, 2012, a shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary School. In only 10 minutes, the murderer killed 20 young children and 6 adults. The 911 calls were heartbreaking.
Two school administrators ran toward the sound of gunfire empty handed. Both were murdered. Victoria Soto, a 27-year old first grade teacher, died while physically shielding her students from the murderer. All she had to protect and defend her students from a madman was her body.
The Newtown, CT police arrived in five minutes but waited to enter the school. The murderer killed himself before police reached him. It was another 30 minutes before medical personnel entered the school and treated those still alive.
Buckeye Firearms Association
The day of the Sandy Hook murders, some of the board members from Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA) had a conference call to discuss the tragedy. One said, “All those teachers had to defend their children were their bodies, and they sacrificed their lives to save those kids. We have to do better.” The board members talked about training teachers to save lives in the first critical seconds of a violent attack on their school. That night, the idea of FASTER was born.
FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. On its website, the program calls itself, “…a carefully-structured curriculum offering over 26 hours of hands-on training over a 3-day class that exceeds the requirements of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. The purpose is not to replace police and EMT, but to allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel on-site to stop school violence rapidly and render medical aid immediately.
When BFA conceived of the idea of FASTER, they knew they would need to remove any barriers that might get in the way of teachers attending. They raised their own funds to pay for the training. They founded Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF), and ordinary citizens across the country gave their hard-earned money to help teachers defend kids. When FASTER offered their first class for 24 students in 2013, 2500 teachers and administrators signed up. One BFF board member described the reverence he has for the teachers who volunteer. He said, “These are teachers will stand between a murderer and your kids.” That was three years ago.
Today the media is paying attention. Through August 2016, FASTER has trained approximately 650 teachers and administrators in 152 Ohio school districts, in 63 out of Ohio’s 88 counties. Word of the program has spread. Teachers and administrators from 6 other states have also taken the training course.
This Shouldn’t Be Political
Our children are not partisans; they are not political chess pieces. Politicians promote the fantasy that guns should never be allowed in schools. But those same politicians need to face the reality that disturbed or evil people do bring guns in to schools. The news shows us what happens when we leave schools unarmed. Experts have shown us what will work to save lives. Let politicians issue their press releases over gun control, mental health, and gun-free zones. In the meantime, kids are dying. Let us do something that make kids safer today.
One teacher said, “We live in a broken world. Hoping that killers won’t go on rampages doesn’t stop them. Only a competent, trained, armed defender can deal with the reality that bad people are out there in our broken world. It’s our job to stop them.”
It is our job too.
Bringing FASTER to Colorado
Some gun control advocates and the politicians they support argue against armed staff in schools. Their arguments are all rendered false by the fact that they approve of armed police and other security guards in schools. The founders of FASTER have thousands of person-years’ worth of experience. The training that teachers and administrators receive in FASTER meets or exceeds the standards for training of law enforcement. Indeed, there is no politician who has studied emergency response in schools like FASTER has.
One of the reasons for the success of the FASTER program in Ohio is that already-strapped school districts don’t have to find room in their budgets to pay for this training. The cost of training qualified school personnel who wish to take the training is covered by donors from all over the United States.
We all know it’s just a matter of time before tragedy strikes again in one of our schools. We also know that designating schools as “Gun Free Zones” and forbidding teachers and other school employees from carrying concealed weapons is just a recipe for disaster because it makes our kids a target for the next disturbed individual who wants to wreak havoc.
By donating to Coloradans for Civil Liberties FASTER program, you will be directly working to help ensure the safety of the most precious resource we have in our schools, our children.
Please click on this link to donate, and please consider donating generously.
Note: This was adapted from a longer blog post by author Laura Carno. To view the full post, including a detailed description of FASTER training, click here.
To see a news story about FASTER from WKRC TV in Cincinnati, Ohio, click here.