ENNIS -- As the debate rages on over whether or not arming teachers would prevent school shootings, a group of teachers from the Dallas-Fort Worth region got preemptive first-hand firearm and medical training on Saturday.
The Strategic Weapons Academy of Texas, which usually trains law enforcement officers, offered a free course for teachers to learn how to fire a pistol, how to keep calm under the pressure of a school-shooting situation, and how to apply medical assistance to shooting victims such as tourniquets. Sixteen teachers took advantage.
"If we can build their confidence with a weapon," says academy owner and manager Tim Bulot, "they can learn and understand it more, [and] even if they're unarmed they're at least going to know what they're up against."
Red Oak ISD teacher Sylvia Morrow had never fired a gun before the class but felt the training was necessary regardless of whether or not teachers in her district are eventually given the option to carry a firearm.
"I wanted to learn so that way if I'm ever put into a situation I will know how to handle it and not panic."
"When we do drills at the school, it's just basically a drill," adds Waxahachie ISD teacher Kim Raney. "You don't really know what to expect if it does happen. Here they're giving you the details of what to expect when they show up, what to do if somebody gets hurt."
"We're teaching them bits and pieces from the same tactical casualty care that we teach SWAT officers," says Bulot. "We never thought it would come to [this] where teachers might need that information, but they're there before we are, and they're there before medics are."
Some teachers admitted the thought of performing medical procedures like stuffing a gunshot wound on their students was difficult, but agreed it's better to be prepared.
"If you are in a situation, you just need to do what you need to do," says Daielon Gonzalez, who works for the Texas Charter System.
One law enforcement officer on hand conceded that arming teachers could cause problems, like police mistaking a teacher for a suspect, but said if a teacher gets certified through the state's school marshal program he or she should be allowed to carry in a school--especially in rural districts where it would take a long time for police to arrive.