Buckeye Firearms Foundation President Jim Irvine responds to CBS Evening News coverage of FASTER Saves Lives program

CBS Evening News attended a level II FASTER Saves Lives class this summer. Their story aired September 19, 2017 and is available on the web here.

The report contains footage of training and interviews with school staff that participated. It also includes discussion with Abby Clements, a teacher from Newtown fighting to keep guns out of schools.

From the story:

"Never in a million years would I have guessed that one response to what happened in our town would be to arm teachers," Clements said. "It's absurd ... God, can you imagine if children were hurt by you in that situation? How would you live with yourself?"

In fact, CBS News saw just that scenario -- where an educator's bullet strikes a student -- play out in a simulated classroom. But the elementary school principal said it does not make him second-guess his choice to have a gun in school.

This section of the story has generated the most conversation among those of us familiar with the training, and I’d guess for those who are strongly opposed to our program.

When we invite news in to cover our training, we don’t set things up to make it all go perfect for the cameras. Life is not perfect, and we don’t lie and pretend it is to make our point. We are open and honest. So yes, we allow the news to see the whole story, even training mistakes.

As an airline pilot, I train in simulators. In this training environment, I have been in the cockpit for a “plane crash.” We would have all died. But we didn’t, we learned. Those opportunities allow us to push ourselves and learn from bad a training experience, which makes the people on our planes safer every day. Rarely does one of my flights require all my skill and knowledge, but if you happen to be sitting in back on one of those days, don’t you hope the pilot has the training and preparation it takes to save your life? We are helping school staff perform at that same level of expertise.

The purpose of training is to learn. We learn more from our failures than we do from successes. An emergency is a terrible time to improvise. That is why we do fire drills, and why schools need to take a proactive approach to dealing with violence.

This Level 2 FASTER class is designed to find weak areas and really push the trainees to their limits. Stopping an active killer is easy for the trained armed staff member, but the thought process and sorting through confusing and conflicting information is difficult. It requires continued training, but allows someone to solve a problem they’ve never seen before.

The training is designed to help staff understand the different ways any given conflict could evolve into. They are taught how to use appropriate methods to defuse a situation, while being in a position to act appropriately if a disorderly person suddenly becomes violent.

We do this through “force on force” and “scenario based” training. This allows us to simulate the stress and thought process necessary to act appropriately when responding to a high school fight, an estranged parent who wants their kid or an armed killer. We make it difficult because we don’t want our kids to be safe only on the good days; we need our school staff to be able to solve the hardest problems on the worst days. We use this method because it’s proven and it works.

Safety is the mission of the FASTER Saves Lives program and we are humbled and honored to work with an ever increasing number of schools that share the same mission.

We thank Nikki Battiste and CBS News for taking the time to attend a training event and airing a story that keeps people thinking about school safety. Through continued education and adapting, we can all work together to make our schools safer for our kids.

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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