Sheriff trains teachers to properly take up arms

- OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Weber County's Sheriff designed a program to help teachers carry firearms in the classroom.

School shootings often seem commonplace.  
That may be because just months ago in New Mexico, gunshots rang out before the morning bell. More than a year ago, a gunman killed 20 innocent children in Connecticut. Lastly, who could forget the carnage at Colombine High School 15 years ago this week? 

"Really it's not if, but when," said Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson.  

After looking back at school violence, he took a stand with a student safety protection training just for teachers. 

"It's far better to have them prepare and respond with some lethal force than to sit back and hope it never happens," Thompson said. 
The seven week course teaches educators how to responsibly carry and conceal a firearm since they are often a child's first line of defense. 

"To stop that threat as soon as it enters that school is the most effective way of saving those children's lives," Thompson said. 

While controversial, state law allows teachers to carry a concealed weapon in class.

"That's openly a personal choice," Matt Ogle said. As the Executive Director of Ogden/Weber Uniserv he told ABC4 Utah that carrying a weapon may go above and beyond. 

"Teachers need to keep in mind that their primary responsibility is to educate students and keep them safe to the best of their ability," he said.

That may not require a weapon. 

Ogle said, "My concern is two fold, one is for the student's safety and the other is for teacher's safety."

Many parents have expressed the same concerns.  However, for some educators, safety means packing heat.  Thompson said the training program has been so popular, there is even a wait list to get in. 

"Our intent is to the best of our ability to help them build the skills, the understanding, the knowledge, the training necessary to protect those kids... Frankly, I feel like we're making Weber County Schools the safest schools in Utah.         
The Weber School District has a policy it hopes will substantiate that claim. While teachers are allowed to have a weapon, firearms must be carried at all times. Policy states guns cannot be out, placed in a purse, or even locked up in a desk to prevent access from students.



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