Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legal in Colorado for school employees to be armed on campus?
It is legal in Colorado for school boards and charter school boards to authorize staff to carry a concealed handgun as a school security officer. This employee could be a janitor, administrator, bus driver, principal, teacher, food services worker, etc. Dozens of school districts in Colorado already do this today. The relevant section of the Colorado Revised Statutes that allows for this provision is 18-12-214, subsection 3B.
Would employees be forced to carry a firearm on campus?
No individual would ever be required to be armed. There is no one suggesting this. When a school board authorizes armed staff, they ask for volunteers. Those volunteers are largely those who already conceal carry outside of their job.
If there is a school resource officer (SRO), is it necessary to have other armed school employees?
We advocate for armed staff even in cases where there are SROs or other armed and uniformed security officers. If a school is big enough for an SRO, then it is likely the school has a large campus with lots of students, and the SRO can’t be everywhere at once. There is evidence that people planning large mass casualty events either have the SRO at the top of their “kill list” or they wait until the SRO is in a faraway location. SROs need to leave the campus on occasion, leaving no one there to stop a killer. In the Arapahoe High School murder, the SRO took 45 seconds to get to the scene, causing the killer to take his own life. But Claire Davis had already lost her life. Having an armed defender as close as possible to the event provides the best chance to save lives.
How are armed school employees trained for this role? Is it similar or dissimilar to what law enforcement learns?
Armed school staffers don’t need to be trained exactly like a police officer, but they do need to be as well trained as law enforcement when it comes to stopping an active killer. Districts with armed staff require significant initial training, as well as ongoing annual training and requalification. Training, such as that provided by FASTER Colorado, is tailored to stopping the killer and stopping the bleeding in the case of injuries. FASTER Colorado graduates qualify at a higher level in handgun proficiency than police officers and Sheriff’s deputies do when they graduate from the academy.
How do schools pay for this level of training?
Just like any training that is required to fulfill job requirements on campus, most schools budget the money for the training. At FASTER Colorado, we raise private money for schools in their first year or two that have not yet budgeted for training.
What is the Claire Davis Act, and what does it have to do with armed school employees?
The Claire Davis School Safety Act was passed in 2015, after Claire Davis lost her life in the Arapahoe High School shooting. When Claire’s family did not get answers from the school about what happened, what was known about the killer, and what the school had done to protect the students, the Colorado legislature passed this first-in-the-nation law. According to this law, school districts are required to prove they used “reasonable care” to prevent “reasonably foreseeable” murders, first-degree assaults, and felony sexual assaults. Many schools are looking at armed school employee teams as the next level of reasonable care to protect student on their campuses.
What is the liability to the school if an armed employee is forced to use their firearm to stop an active shooter?
Like anything that happens on a K-12 campus, school districts are covered for incidents on their property by their district insurance policy. In the case of armed employee teams, most district policies add on riders for each armed staff member. In addition, the individuals on the team are encouraged to have their own private liability insurance.
Has an armed teacher, staff member or administrator ever stopped an active shooter at a school?
To our knowledge, there has never been a situation where a killer came onto a K-12 campus with the intent of committing a mass killing, who was then stopped by an armed school employee. What we do know is that there is a very big deterrent effect. Most armed schools have removed their “gun free zone” signs. Many have replaced those signs with signs indicating there are armed staff on campus. Some even have large signs very prominently displayed in the parking lot of each building. While the trend of school shootings overall is up slightly, the trend in schools with concealed carry armed employees is flat —at zero.