Colorado Arming Teachers Without Statewide Training Standards
Colorado school districts are not required to disclose if they allow teachers to carry firearms and the state doesn’t track it.
Although an estimated 30 Colorado school districts and charter schools now allow teachers to carry a firearm on school grounds, there is no statewide gun safety training standard to regulate them.
Colorado is one of nine states to approve arming teachers but does not have requirements that need to be followed by each district that chooses to do so. It also does not have a standard use-of-force policy similar to those taught to police officers, leaving such policies entirely up to individual school districts, reports The Denver Post.
The lack of standards is raising concerns that arming teachers is a local issue not subject to questioning or reviews by state regulators or lawmakers as the state’s education system operates under local control.
Under Colorado law, school boards are able to designate teachers and staff as school security officers able to carry concealed weapons in the classroom without training.
The most regulated training and safety standards for armed educators is coming from the Colorado School Districts Self Insurance Pool, which provides liability insurance for school districts that choose to arm teachers.
However, in order to be insured, districts and teachers have to meet some requirements. These requirements include 24 hours of firearm training over the past year, four hours of classroom instruction on firearms safety and use of deadly force, 14 hours of live fire range training exercises, six hours of school active shooter training and a shooting range test police officers are required to pass.
To requalify each year, teachers and staff must complete a minimum of 16 hours of training and gun equipment should be standardized. CSDSIP also recommends that training or training protocols be reviewed by a “credentialed, objective third party.”
Colorado Does Not Track Which Districts Allow Teachers to Carry
Creating additional concern for some is the fact that Colorado does not track which districts allow teachers to arm themselves and which have purchased liability insurance. Districts have the right to refuse to answer whether they allow teachers to carry, citing safety concerns, according to Chris Harms, director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety’s School Safety Resource Center.
“There isn’t a lot of information. I can’t tell you which districts do, either, because I don’t know,” said Harms.
Rick Myers, executive director of the Major Cities Chief Association, an organization of police officials representing some of the largest cities in the U.S. and Canada, has concerns regarding the requirements for arming teachers in Colorado.
Myers, who has been in law enforcement for 41 years and was a Colorado Springs police chief for five of them, said police officers receive hundreds of hours of training, including knowing when to shoot, sizing up an environment and shooting while avoiding innocent bystanders.
“None of that is possible in the short duration they’re giving teachers and saying it’s OK to give them arms in schools,” Myers said. “The thought of our most precious resource, the children, being in a secure area with someone armed with deadly force but not received the same level of police officer training is somewhat frightening to me.”
Myers also voiced concern regarding the lack of standardized use-of-force policy for teachers given authority to use deadly force in the classroom.
“The problems aren’t going to be any different in a police department when you do have a consistent use-of-force policy,” Myers said. “How often does a police officer use force up to and including deadly force that some in the community questions the appropriateness of? And that’s after hundreds and hundreds of hours of training.”
Last year, Republicans in the statehouse sponsored a bill that would have required school districts to consult with their county Sheriff’s department to create a curriculum for arming teachers.
The bill did not make it out of the committee as opponents feared it would lead to more guns in schools.