CLEARFIELD – State Rep. Curt Oda is offering a concealed weapon permit training course for educators on Jan 17, “because teachers are the last line of defense,” should a gunman open fire in a classroom.
Oda, who represents District 14 in Clearfield, has been holding such classes for three to four years. In the aftermath of the Connecticut shootings, he is offering the course to all teachers, school administrators and employees at minimal cost. The class will be held at 5:30 p.m., but its location has not been announced publicly. Register by calling Oda at 801-725-0277.
Participants will be asked to pay a $10 fee for fingerprints and photograph. The concealed weapons permit costs $46, dut to the state Bureau of Identification.
“We train teachers to stop, not to kill,” Oda said. He, along with Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council and local attorney Mitch Vilos, have already taught 70 to 80 teachers at schools in the Davis and Salt Lake school districts over the past few years. Aposhian conducted a class last week in West Valley City that was attended by approximately 200 educators.
Teachers are the last line of defense for students in schools built with so many windows there is no place to hide, Oda said.
“We do not want the only line of defense (for students) to be teacher’s bodies,” he said. Often in shootings that have occurred in schools, malls and other locations throughout the nation, police were just minutes away, Oda said. But that was not close enough to save lives.
Not everyone agrees arming educators is the best way to protect students.
“I have some real reservations about arming teachers,” said former Davis County Commissioner J. Dell Holbrook, who lives in West Bountiful. “That kind of philosophy is more of a problem then a solution.”
Holbrook, who owns several guns, said he has no problem with trained, certified lawmen carrying weapons on school grounds, but having armed people at a school is no guarantee students will be safe. “There was an armed deputy at Columbine.”
At Columbine High School in Colorado, 12 students and one teacher were killed on April 20, 1999.
Guns carried by teachers may not always be readily accessible, “and if they’re not immediately accessible, they’re no good to you,” he said.
Teachers in his concealed weapons classes are taught to pin the suspect down until police can arrive, Oda said.
“(Having a concealed weapon) doesn’t mean they automatically go after the guy,” he said. “They’re taught to protect their immediate surroundings. If they do it wrong they could be charged with aggravated assault.”
Oda uses the shooting at Trolley Square as an example of one person carrying a concealed weapon who probably saved lives.
In that case, Officer Ken Hammond, an off-duty Ogden police officer, was having dinner with his wife on Feb. 12, 2007. He helped to stop a shooting spree by gunman Sulejman Talovic while other officers arrived. Oda said the shootings happened in six minutes
Hammond was armed with his personal weapon at the time and was hailed as a hero in the days and months that followed the mass killing.