The Colorado and Ohio model programs that train teachers to defeat active shooters

For many years there has been debate about allowing teachers to be armed to protect students. This post describes an established training program for teachers who choose to do so in compliance with school rules. The program is FASTER—short for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response. Introduced in Ohio, FASTER could be adopted by every state and school, at no cost to taxpayers, and at considerable saving of lives.

FASTER was created in Ohio in December 2012, following the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. FASTER Ohio’s website, FASTER Saves Lives, is the best resource for information about the program. FASTER Colorado was founded by Laura Carno; it has been adopted as a supported program of the Independence Institute, the Denver think tank where I work. Pilot programs for FASTER have begun in Utah and Arizona.

In the last decade, FASTER has trained thousands of teachers and other school staff in emergency medicine and emergency armed defense.

FASTER training is voluntary. No teacher or staffer should be forced to carry a firearm. For teachers and staff who want training, FASTER offers 26 hours over three days.

Almost all FASTER participants already have been issued a concealed handgun carry permit. The permits authorize concealed carry almost everywhere in one’s home state; They also authorize concealed handgun carry in many other states (because of interstate reciprocity, like with drivers’ licenses).

FASTER teaches specific skills for school protection. Legally, schools are said to act in loco parentis—in place of parents. Parents defend their children. Therefore, teachers defend their students. That’s what FASTER participants think, and FASTER prepares them to do so.

FASTER graduates learn the medical and defensive skills relevant to stopping a school shooter from taking lives. FASTER instructors are law enforcement trainers. They teach FASTER classes two of the skills they teach law enforcement officers: treating gunshot wounds and defeating active shooters.

Part of FASTER training is a very specific subset of emergency medicine: how to keep a gunshot wound victim alive while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

The other major component of FASTER is close-quarters combat against active shooters. FASTER teaches the same skills and techniques that law enforcement officers are taught.

To graduate from FASTER, one must exceed the marksmanship criteria required in one’s state for certified law enforcement officers—such as Colorado’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). The three days of FASTER training make graduates well-prepared against school shooters; the classes do not prepares to perform unrelated medical or law enforcement functions, such as dealing with heart attacks or traffic stops.

FASTER charges tuition to cover expenses, but scholarships are available for employees of any school district that cannot afford tuition.

A school shooting you probably haven’t heard about, unless you live in Colorado, took place on May 7, 2019, at the STEM High School in Highlands Ranch. When two armed criminals invaded a classroom, student Kendrick Castillo rushed them. His heroism allowed all other students to escape, but Kendrick was fatally shot. Kendrick’s parents, John and Maria Castillo, speak to FASTER classes and explain the necessity of armed staff. This May, they held a fundraiser for FASTER Colorado, in honor of Kendrick.

There has never been a problem of any FASTER teacher causing an accidental discharge, or having a gun taken by student. FASTER training rigorously teaches weapons safety and retention.

FASTER Colorado executive director Laura Carno explained FASTER on the Jesse Watters show last week. More information about FASTER is available in Lauro Carno’s article for The Hilland in a New York Daily News article she coauthored with me, Arming teachers can protect kids.

FASTER is not the only good idea about preventing or thwarting school shootings. Implementing FASTER does not prevent consideration of any other school safety idea.

According to a recent poll of likely general election voter by The Trafalgar Group, 57.5% believe that preventing trained teachers from carrying firearms in schools makes schools more dangerous; 30.8% disagreed. Democrats felt the same way as the general public, although by a smaller margin: 48.2% to 41.3%. People aged 18-24 were the most supportive of armed teachers, with 62% for and 21% against.

So far, FASTER has a perfect record of prevention and a zero record of negative side-effects. School officials, politicians, or anti-gun who prevent willing, well-trained staff from protecting students are refusing to prioritize student safety.

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