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Gun group offers training for Utah teachers

  • Cori Sorensen, a fourth-grade teacher at Highland Elementary School in Highland, Utah, receives firearms training Dec. 27, 2012, with a .357 magnum from personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Cori Sorensen, a fourth-grade teacher at Highland Elementary School in Highland, Utah, receives firearms training Dec. 27, 2012, with a .357 magnum from personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Bobbi Frampton, a vocational teacher, listens Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Bobbi Frampton, a vocational teacher, listens Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Clark Aposhian (rear), president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun while Joanna Baginska, a fourth-grade teacher at Odyssey Charted School in American Fork, uses a 40 cal. Sig Sauer on Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Clark Aposhian (rear), president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun while Joanna Baginska, a fourth-grade teacher at Odyssey Charted School in American Fork, uses a 40 cal. Sig Sauer on Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Carl Stubbs (center), principal of Valley View Elementary School in Pleasant Grove, looks on with other teachers Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Carl Stubbs (center), principal of Valley View Elementary School in Pleasant Grove, looks on with other teachers Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, holds a pistol Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, holds a pistol Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Christine Caldwell (left) receives firearms training with a 9mm Glock from personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy on Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Christine Caldwell (left) receives firearms training with a 9mm Glock from personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy on Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • Stephen Pratt, a third-grade teacher from Alpine, Utah, is fingerprinted for a gun carry permit Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)Stephen Pratt, a third-grade teacher from Alpine, Utah, is fingerprinted for a gun carry permit Dec. 27, 2012, during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. (Associated Press)
  • "It's a terrible idea. It's a horrible, terrible, no-good, rotten idea," Carol Lear, a chief lawyer for the Utah Office of Education, said of arming educators. (Associated Press)"It's a terrible idea. It's a horrible, terrible, no-good, rotten idea," Carol Lear, a chief lawyer for the Utah Office of Education, said of arming educators. (Associated Press)
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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — English teacher Kevin Leatherbarrow holds a license to carry a concealed weapon and doesn't see anything wrong with arming teachers in the aftermath of the deadly Connecticut school shooting.

"We're sitting ducks," said Mr. Leatherbarrow, who works at a Utah charter school. "You don't have a chance in hell. You're dead — no ifs, ands or buts."

Gun-rights advocates in Utah agree and were offering six hours of training Thursday in handling concealed weapons for 200 Utah teachers in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants.

In Ohio, a firearms group said it was launching a test program in tactical firearms training for 24 teachers. The Arizona attorney general is proposing a change to state law to allow an educator in each school to carry a gun.

The moves come after the National Rifle Association proposed placing an armed officer at each of the nation's schools after a gunman on Dec. 14 killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

There are already police officers in some of the nation's schools. Teachers unions and gun-control advocates, however, have questioned how safe the NRA proposal would keep children, whether it would be economically feasible and how it would alter student life.

Some educators say it is dangerous to allow guns. Among the dangers are teachers being overpowered for their weapons or students getting them and accidentally or purposely shooting classmates.

"It's a terrible idea," said Carol Lear, a chief lawyer for the Utah Office of Education. "It's a horrible, terrible, no-good, rotten idea."

Utah educators say they would ban guns if they could, but legislators left them with no choice. State law forbids schools, districts or college campuses from imposing their own gun restrictions.

Educators say they have no way of knowing how many teachers are armed. Gun-rights advocates estimate 1 percent of Utah teachers, or 240, are licensed to carry concealed weapons. It's not known how many carry at school.

Gun rights advocates say teachers can act more quickly than law enforcement in the critical first few minutes to protect children from the kind of deadly shooting that took place in Connecticut.

"We're not suggesting that teachers roam the halls" for an armed intruder, said Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, the state's leading gun lobby. "They should lock down the classroom. But a gun is one more option if the shooter" breaks into a classroom, he said.

The council said it would waive its $50 fee for the training. Instruction will feature plastic guns and a major emphasis will be for people who are facing deadly threats to announce they have a gun and retreat or take cover before trying to shoot, he said.

"Mass shootings may still be rare, but that doesn't help you when the monster comes in."

At the class, teachers offered their fingerprints for a permit as an instructor in the "psychology of mass violence" kicked off the gun class.

Utah is among the few states that let people carry licensed concealed weapons into public schools without exception, the National Conference of State Legislatures says in a 2012 compendium of state gun laws.

Mr. Leatherbarrow said he often felt threatened while working at an inner-city school in Buffalo, N.Y., where he got a license to carry a pistol. He moved less than a year ago to Utah, where he feels safer. He said he was highly trained in handling guns but taking criticism from parents who don't appreciate his views on school safety.

"I'm in agreement not everybody should be carrying firearms in school. They're not trained. But for some parents to think we're cowboys, that frustrates me," he said. "I wish parents would understand."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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