Buckeye Firearms Foundation is receiving the inquirees
More than 600 applications from all across the country have poured in to the Buckeye Firearms Foundation after they announced they would provide free firearms training to teachers and school administrative staff. It comes in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
"We knew this would be popular, but the response has exceeded our expectations," said Jim Irvine, chairman of the non-profit Buckeye Firearms Foundation. "People doubted if we would fill the first class. That happened in hours. This is something many in our schools have been asking about for a long time. We are already looking past the first class to future dates and locations to meet the demand."
While Ohio generally prohibits firearms at schools, the law includes a provision that allows teachers and staff to carry firearms if the school board approves it.
Irvine says their Armed Teacher Training Program seeks to help teachers get permission to carry concealed firearms on the job and provide advanced training that goes above and beyond the typical requirements of concealed carry.
"For too long, many school administrators have been living in denial," explained Irvine. "They believed that rules prohibiting guns in schools would prevent violence. But what we've seen over and over again is that mass murderers don't obey these restrictions. So schools have become victim zones filled with easy targets who are unable to respond effectively.
Each person that goes through the program will leave with a state-issued Concealed Handgun License. Irvine says they will all have greater than average training and will all go through a background check.
"It works effectively for concealed carry in malls, office buildings, public parks, and millions of other highly populated locations. It will work in schools too," he said.
The program is voluntary and Irvine believes no teacher should ever be forced to carry a weapon if they don't want to.
"No one will ever know who is or is not armed. Those who would seek to do harm in schools should be met with armed resistance even before law enforcement shows up. Over time, schools will no longer be considered easy, risk-free targets."
More than a third of applicants are women. Over 70 percent are teachers, but there are also administrators, office staff, and guidance counselors. Half work in high schools, but many work in kindergartens, grade schools, and middle schools. More than half already have a Concealed Handgun License.
Buckeye Firearms Foundation is currently developing the curriculum and guidelines for the Armed Teacher Training Program with Tactical Defense Institute. The first class date is expected to be spring of 2013. Funding will come from private and corporate donations. The first class will have space for 24 people. Irvine says it cost his organization about $1,000 for each participant, but he doesn't want to turn away anyone who wants trained.
"The world has changed. We realize what we have been doing isn't going to work going forward, we'd better do something else to make things more secure," Irvine said.