West Plains elementary school says students safer after arming teachers

Published: Feb. 27, 2018 at 4:32 PM CST
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President Trump has said he wants "highly trained" teachers to carry guns-- to try to stop a casualty event before it becomes a mass one.

While many are opposed to the idea, some 20 districts in Missouri already have teachers who are armed. Some local administrators tell us more districts seem to be warming up to the idea.

At Fairview School in West Plains, a rural K-8 district, teachers have already been armed for the last five years, since the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012. The superintendent says he wouldn't have it any other way. Superintendent Aaron Sydow tells us if a shooter showed up to do damage, he says by the time authorities could arrive, much destruction would already be done.

"The only feedback I get is when an event occurs such as Florida, the staff here and parents are thankful we have this program in place," Sydow said.

This program is arming teachers-- with rigorous training from a West Plains company called Shield Solutions, LLC. Sydow says his armed staff-- essentially put in the same hours of gun training as a SWAT team member would.

"They've got about 150 hours since the program's inception," Sydow explained. "Those people have to have a conceal carry permit, they have to undergo psychiatric evaluation, have to pass a background check and then they have to pass a 40 hour initial course, with hours 36 hours following that every year."

So any push-back from parents? Some, he says, but not much. In a rural school, they tell us they're keenly aware how long it would take before actual police could arrive.

"As demonstrated down in Florida, the teachers died trying to save those students," said Joe Kammerer. He and his wife Heidi have had three children in this district.

"We feel like maybe that would not have happened if it were here, that that young man in Florida may have been stopped before he even got through the doors," Heidi said.

Love the idea or hate it, it's not going away in Fair View. In fact, the superintendent says it's only broadening its reach.

"I'd say without a doubt... you can't call someone a security agent and give them no tool to complete the task," Sydow said.

Sydow would not give us the exact cost of the Shield Solutions program, but says it is "reasonable" for even a small district to pay.

He says he is going to other districts in the coming weeks to talk to them about their interest in the program.