South Dakota OKs Training Armed Teachers, More States Could Follow

When Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill allowing his state's schools to arm teachers with guns on March 8, South Dakota became the first state to pass a statute specifically authorizing educators to possess a firearm in a public K-12 school.

Many states have provisions that allow school staff with concealed carry permits to possess guns in the classroom but Lauren Heintz, a research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, told the New York Times that South Dakota is the first to require its state education department establish a training program for teachers and administrators who wish to carry a weapon on school campuses.

The law still leaves the decision to arm teachers up to individual school districts and local police departments.

Other states are expected to adopt similar statutes soon. Bills to allow public school teachers or administrators who complete a special school resource officer course to carry concealed handguns on campus have been introduced in Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Florida.

Firearms training instructors and gun ranges nationwide report a sharp increase in the number of individual educators seeking concealed weapons permits and in school districts inquiring about training programs for staff since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook school shootings.

In Ohio, which allows concealed carry on public school property at each district's discretion, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation offered 24 free "scholarships" to its Armed Teacher Training Program classes -- a three-day tactical defense course worth $1,000.

The foundation received more than 400 applicants, ranging "from teachers and administrators to custodians and bus drivers," said Jim Irvine, foundation president.

And while the incident occurred in Thailand, the fact that one armed school administrator fought off 12 masked men -- killing one -- in thwarting an attack on his students illustrates the value in equipping those responsible for childrens' safety with the tools and training to do so.

The March 11 assault by machete-wielding men on a nursing school in Buriram, 250 miles northeast of Bangkok, was initiated by Jihadi intolerants angry that the school was educating females, in this case, 15-16 year old girls. Before any student was injured, they were stopped in their tracks by one man with a gun.