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Now, U.S. teachers take up arms, for defence

AFP
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Many states are offering educators training to handle guns

A Utah teacher is shown how to handle a handgun by an instructor at a concealed-weapons training class to 200 Utah teachers on Thursday.Photo: AFP
A Utah teacher is shown how to handle a handgun by an instructor at a concealed-weapons training class to 200 Utah teachers on Thursday.Photo: AFP

Several U.S. states are considering allowing school teachers to carry weapons, and educators, determined not to allow a repeat of the Newtown massacre, are flocking to training sessions.

As gun control advocates try to outlaw military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, gun enthusiasts, backed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), are taking a very different approach.

Prevention

The gun lobby argues that there is no way to stop crazy or evil people doing bad things and so the only sure-fire way to prevent mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook elementary is to take down the shooter.

In a rare press conference one week after 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot dead 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six adults with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, the NRA called for armed guards in every school in the country.

But in Utah, one of the handful of American states that currently allows people to carry licensed concealed weapons into public schools, many teachers are unwilling to wait and see which political argument wins out.

Training sessions

In response to Newtown, the Utah Shooting Sports Council (USSC) waived its fee on Thursday for educators wanting to participate in training sessions to gain permits to carry concealed weapons.

More than half of the roughly 400 education professionals that showed an interest had to be turned away because there wasn't enough room on the course.

The surge in interest was seen by organisers as a direct response to the shooting in Newtown, with teachers showing a heightened awareness that people are responsible for their own safety and wanting their own permits.

Making it legal?

While teachers train themselves to try to stop the next Lanza, state officials like Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne are busily crafting legislation to make sure they can legally do so.

"The proposal is that any school that wishes to do so may designate the principal or another designee to receive training in the use of firearms and how to handle emergencies such as that which occurred in Newtown," he said.

Ideally, there would be an armed police officer in every school, but due to budget considerations this may not be possible, Horne said.

Pro-gun lawmakers in Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota and Tennessee have also vowed to propose legislation in the coming months that would allow for armed teachers in schools.AFP


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