Sandy Hook massacre – looking forward (Part II of II)

(Continued from Part I)

Ohio leads the nation on school safety. We have the best law which states:

2923.122 Illegal conveyance or possession of deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance or of object indistinguishable from firearm in school safety zone.

(1) This section does not apply to any of the following:
(a) An officer, agent, or employee of this or any other state or the United States who is authorized to carry deadly weapons or dangerous ordnance and is acting within the scope of the officer's, agent's, or employee's duties, a law enforcement officer who is authorized to carry deadly weapons or dangerous ordnance, a security officer employed by a board of education or governing body of a school during the time that the security officer is on duty pursuant to that contract of employment, or any other person who has written authorization from the board of education or governing body of a school to convey deadly weapons or dangerous ordnance into a school safety zone or to possess a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone and who conveys or possesses the deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in accordance with that authorization; (emphasis added)

As we work with other states, we recommend they copy Ohio law which has worked well. Schools have complete authority to set policy and make adjustments at the local level. The best schools have built on a solid foundation to keep improving the training and preparedness.

Ohio leads the nation in funding, with $100,000 per year earmarked for FASTER Saves Lives training. While this is less than half our annual budget, it is more than any other state is doing, and enables us to continue to meet increasing demand.

One portion of this funding is designated for trauma equipment. Children have died because school staff lacked the training and tools (tourniquets, compression bandages, chest seals) to treat trauma injuries. In Ohio lives have been saved because schools now incorporate this critical layer of skills into their emergency response plans.

This year we conducted the first out-of-state FASTER Saves Lives class in Colorado. We are working with multiple other states to change their law or finance a class for their schools and police. We do not force our training on anyone, but provide the training to those who want a better way than letting your staff/students be slaughtered while waiting for a law enforcement response that can’t possibly get there in time.

We include police in our training. Schools and law enforcement must work together on event day, so it is important for them to train together in preparation. They must know each other’s abilities and limitations and what to expect from each other. Every law enforcement officer/agency that has engaged with the training has told us it was valuable for them.

Our training is not an end, but a beginning. With schools and local law enforcement trained, they move forward together to practice skills and further develop mindset and knowledge. We have not had any of our trained people “shoot down an active killer.” We’ve done better. Our schools have been prepared and stopped events before anyone was killed. That is the ultimate success.

The FASTER Saves Lives training has been featured on CBS Evening News and PBS News Hour. We have added level II and level III classes. We are working to provide tailored mindset training for the majority of school staff who have no desire to carry a firearm. We now offer the medical training as a stand-alone class. We are working with churches and businesses who want to make their facilities safer.

We have trained more school staff than any program in the country, including over 1,000 people from over 225 districts in 12 states. FASTER Saves Lives is widely recognized as the leading program in the country, and not because of myself or any of us at Buckeye Firearms Foundation. But we are proud to help facilitate the transfer of knowledge from our nation’s experts to our nation’s educators.

While most rarely think about that horrible day in Newtown, Connecticut five years ago, we never forget. We have focused on proven solutions that work, teamed with our nation’s experts on violence and schools that know that if they want a better outcome, they must embrace a better solution.

We must honor the six school staff members and 20 innocent babies who died that day by correcting our failures and being better prepared for the next attack. We know that FASTER Saves Lives is the future of safety and security for our schools and we are honored to play a part in helping Ohio lead the way.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation President, 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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