30 Ohio Schools Now Have Gun Policies to Defend Students; Apply NOW for FASTER training

Last December, Buckeye Firearms Foundation announced that there were 20 Ohio school districts that had authorized persons to carry firearms in their schools. That number has now grown to approximately 30 districts that have authorized such carry.

While keeping track of specific district information gets more difficult as the program grows in popularity, there is little doubt that at least 50 districts will have authorized individuals to carry firearms by the end of this year. A serious event would likely push the number over 100.

Most school districts have reviewed their preparedness for violence. Better security is clearly the way of the future for our schools. There are many things that can be done to improve school safety and security. Authorizing competent and trained individuals to carry firearms is both cost-effective and significantly reduces a schools vulnerability to active killer events.

As more districts learn about the FASTER (Faculty / Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response) program and what it entails, they are embracing the expert’s suggestions for school safety. Those who oppose armed protection in the schools have yet to offer any viable alternative for stopping an active killer in a timely manner.

When we started this initiative, we worked primarily with teachers and staff. We trained them and they went back to their district to ask permission to use the skills and tools they had acquired to offer a last line of defense for the students. Many districts were apprehensive and concerned about the risk of allowing staff to possess a firearm on school property. But as they learned about active killer events, they realized the real risk was not in authorizing someone to carry a firearm, but in prohibiting someone access to the only tool proven to reliably stop an active killer. Waiting minutes for a police response is not a viable option when a child is dying every 8 to 12 seconds.

We are now transitioning from working with individual school employees to working with school administrations. Districts who have made few significant changes to active killer response are realizing i is only a matter of time until the next school massacre. They know they are unprepared, but are unsure about their next step to increase school safety. We are answering questions and helping them take an overall look at security in their district.

One point of confusion is that while we can train individuals, and we can certify that they have passed the OPOTA law enforcement qualification course with a handgun, we can’t authorize any individual to carry a firearm. Only a school board or governing body may grant permission for an individual to possess a firearm on school property or in a school building. This is why it makes sense for school boards to contact Buckeye Firearms Foundation and tell us which members of their staff they would like trained. We are happy to honor such requests. We respect each district’s authority to choose which individuals they authorize, and they respect our ability to prepare their staff for the worst. This team approach is beneficial to all parties, especially the school children.

We are currently filling all of our summer classes and continue to accept applications for those spots. Individuals and districts interested in participating should contact Buckeye Firearms Foundation soon.

The FASTER training is an advanced course. Individuals who have recently obtained their concealed handgun license or have minimal firearms training find the FASTER class overwhelming. To help people be better prepared for this class we are offering one day intermediate classes. These are designed for people who have taken the NRA basic pistol or similar class but have not taken any other formal firearms training.

This training is limited to individuals who have applied for the FASTER training. Those interested should check their email or contact Brad Birchfield at [email protected] for available training dates and locations. Response has been strong for these classes and we are excited to be able to offer this in various locations in Ohio.

With multiple topic experts and qualified trainers, Ohio is leading the nation in reforming how schools protect children from violence. In addition to Ohio personnel, we have trained individuals from two surrounding states, and will likely train people from two additional states this summer. Georgia law is changing to allow schools to participate in such programs, and we have worked with individuals and multiple other state legislatures interested in following the success we are having in Ohio.

Every child is special, and every life is sacred. School leaders must take every reasonable step they can to adequately protect our children from violence. With unlimited resources, the Secret Service use armed persons inside the building to protect the President’s children. We may not be able to afford a protective detail for every child, but we can no longer afford to leave our school children unprotected. The discussion should not be about guns but rather about safety. The “no guns” sticker on the door does not work.

If your school has not made adequate improvements to their school safety plan, it is your duty as a parent to make sure your children are safe. Engage your school officials and make sure you are comfortable betting your child’s life on those who set the policy in your district. More information is available on our School Safety Information Page. The life you save may be your child.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation President, BFA PAC Chairman and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award" and the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award."

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