AP

Armed Utah teachers practice responding to school shootings

Jul 5, 2019, 3:13 PM
June 29, 2019, Cindy Bullock, Timpanogos Academy secretary, participates in shooting drills at the ...
June 29, 2019, Cindy Bullock, Timpanogos Academy secretary, participates in shooting drills at the Utah County Sheriff's Office shooting range during the teacher's academy training, in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah. About 30 teachers in Utah are spending their summer learning how to stuff wounds and shoot guns as part of a training held by police to prepare educators for an active shooter scenario in their schools. (AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer)
(AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer)

SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) — Nancy Miramontes had 30 seconds to find the gunman.

The Utah school psychologist weaved through a maze of dusty halls before spotting him in the corner of a classroom, holding a gun to a student’s head. She took a deep breath and fired three shots, the first time she’s ever used a gun. One bullet pierced the shooter’s forehead.

“Nice work,” a police officer told her as they exchanged high-fives in front of cardboard props representing the gunman and student.

Miramontes recently joined 30 other Utah teachers at a series of trainings where police instructed them on how to respond to an active shooter. Teachers went through the shooting drill inside a warehouse set up to look like a school, then moved outside to a shooting range.

Active shooter training for educators is becoming more common nationwide, and Utah is one of several states that generally allow permit holders to carry guns in public schools. Other states, including Florida and Texas, have programs that allow certain teachers to be armed if they are approved under a set of stipulations.

Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith said the popularity of concealed carry permits in Utah makes such trainings even more important. About half the teachers brought their own handguns to the shooting range.

In this Saturday, June 29, 2019, photo, Christy Belt, Timpanogos Academy 5th grade teacher, engages in an exercise designed to help teachers make good decisions in critical, high stress situations such as an active shooter incident during the teacher’s academy training at the Utah County Sheriff’s Office shooting range, in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah. About 30 teachers in Utah are spending their summer learning how to stuff wounds and shoot guns as part of a training held by police to prepare educators for an active shooter scenario in their schools. (AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer)

“If teachers are going to be bringing firearms into schools, let’s make sure they know how to handle them safely,” Smith said.

At least 39 states require lockdown, active-shooter or similar safety drills, according to the Education Commission of the States. Other states have less explicit requirements or leave it to districts. Utah requires its elementary schools to conduct at least one safety drill each month, and its secondary schools to have detailed emergency response plans. The firearm training is voluntary, but the Utah County Sheriff’s Teachers Academy already has a waiting list for its next four-week program.

Despite increasing prevalence, some school safety experts aren’t in favor of firearms training and worry that such lessons could cause undue stress or harm.

“Are police tasking teachers to perform a law enforcement responsibility by arming them to protect others? We have to be cautious of what we ask people to do in these traumatic, stressful situations,” said Ken Trump, a school safety expert with the National School Safety and Security Services consulting firm.

Miramontes said her teacher friends in Utah and other states debated about it on Facebook. But after the training, she said she felt empowered.

“I know how to protect myself and my students now; I know what to expect if the worst happens,” she said.

At the recent session, officers showed teachers how to disarm a gunman, where to shoot on the body, how to properly aim and unload a firearm. They also went over de-escalation techniques, self-defense and medical responses such as how to pack a wound and tie a tourniquet on a child.

Officers spent months designing the course and local businesses donated money and equipment. Attendees paid $20 to participate.

Between bites of pastries, teachers relayed their fears:

“Will the gunman leave after I shoot them?”

“How do I protect the children when they come?”

The sun stretched over the mountains as teachers put down their coffee and strapped into bulletproof vests, goggles and protective head gear. Above the ringing of gunshots, some teachers discussed summer vacation plans and classroom supply lists.

Sandy Grow, a special needs educator at a Lehi middle school, said the massacres at Parkland and Sandy Hook left her feeling unsafe at work. A gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last year. In 2012, 20 children and six educators were killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“The idea of being trapped in a classroom with my students and not being able to protect them bothered me,” she said. “I want to defend them and keep them safe, not be a sitting duck.”

Mike Ericksen thinks a lot about how to keep students safe at Mountain View High School, where he’s the principal and his son is a student. In 2016, before he began working there, five students were stabbed in the boys’ locker room.

Reloading his handgun for target practice, Ericksen said the training has left him better prepared to fight back if someone threatens his school.

“I’m more confident in my skills and what to do if something happens,” he said. “I’m not as nervous now. I can help.”

Today’s Top Stories

AP

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
7 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
9 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
10 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
11 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
11 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Armed Utah teachers practice responding to school shootings