Free concealed carry class for teachers draws interest in Teller County
Author: Debbie Kelley, The Gazette - February 28, 2018 - Updated: February 28, 2018
Erik Stone says he isn’t trying to put the cart in front of the horse. He’s just trying to help teachers be ready in case the Trump administration succeeds in arming more teachers in classrooms.
Stone, a National Rifle Association-certified handgun instructor, decided to offer a free concealed-carry handgun class for Teller County teachers after the Feb. 14 shootings killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“My thought was if educators wanted to pursue that level of training, I can help them with the first step,” he said.
He said 75 percent of his class slots are filled.
“There’s been a strong response that reflects the population we have – a place where people value the right to self-defense and the Second Amendment,” Stone said.
The training will be held Sunday in Teller County.
Stone’s wife is a school teacher, and he has a student at Woodland Park High School, one of several schools in the Pikes Peak region that has had a credible threat issued against it since the Florida shooting.
The Woodland Park threat was credible enough that the district called for all of its schools to be closed Wednesday, the specific day cited in a graffiti threat in a girl’s bathroom at the high school.
Neither of Teller County’s two public school districts allow teachers or other staff to carry concealed handguns on their campuses.
“We haven’t even talked about it,” said Stacy Schubloom, spokeswoman for Woodland Park School District RE-2. “We’ve had so much going on this week, and we’re in the middle of a new superintendent search, so we haven’t discussed that as of yet.”
In Colorado, that decision has to be made by the elected school board members. Under current law, only security guards can be armed on school grounds, but school districts can designate employees, such as teachers, as security guards.
It could become easier if President Donald Trump’s idea to arm teachers advances.
The board of Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1 has discussed the issue.
But, said Superintendent Les Lindauer, “It’s not at any level that we could say it’s being planned. There are concerns with both staff and the school board.”
The small mountain district of 367 students is considering adding a second armed school resource officer and has decided to fortify the main entrances to school buildings to better control access, he said.
Although the district has had “very few” threats, he said, “at the same time, we do have students we have some concerns about.”
Lindauer said he’s meeting next week with the Cripple Creek mayor and police chief to further discuss school safety. “It’s a topic we’re focusing on.”
A concealed carry handgun permit is a prerequisite for further training, which is required by school districts that allow teachers to carry on school grounds.
The FASTERColorado.com program, for example, trained 17 educators last year in an advanced, intensive course on how to respond to active shooter situations. This year, 50 educators have signed up for the training, which is funded by donations, said Executive Director Laura Carno.
“It’s the ticket to play,” she said of the permit. “You can’t carry without a permit, and you need a permit to get into our classes.”
Of the state’s 178 public school districts, the program has worked with 15, with another 10 districts rumored to have armed teachers and other staff, Carno said.
“A lot of districts keep it quiet, so it’s a hard number to nail down,” she said.
Hanover School District 28 is the only Pikes Peak region district to allow teachers and other staff to be designated as security guards and thus allowed to carry concealed handguns.
About 6 percent of Coloradans hold concealed carry permits, Carno said.
“It’s not surprising teachers would be part of that,” she said.
Teller County has issued 2,590 of the permits, said Carolyn Davis, concealed carry coordinator at the Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s stayed steady for the past few years,” she said. “I’ve had people pretty consistently asking for permits since last October, which is typical for the end of the year.”
Stone, the county’s Republican Party chairman, said the class he’s offering “is not the solution for school security” but is a good start for educators interested in more training.
“Teachers would be the last line of defense, as part of a greater security plan to have a secure perimeter and locked doors,” he said. “There needs to be something more than just hide and shield the children in the school with your body. We’ve seen what that does; it results unfortunately in tragedy.”
Under Colorado law, a concealed carry permit enables a teacher or other employee to have a concealed firearm on school property if it’s in a locked compartment inside a locked vehicle, Stone said.
For more information on his class, visit sheepdogfirearms.training/book-online.