Utah educators aim to stop school shooters with unique firearms training course

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Some Utah teachers felt at home on the range Tuesday: the firing range.

It was part of a unique tactical firearm training program for educators that made its Utah debut at the Lee Kay Shooting Range.

It’s called the FASTER Saves Lives program and their aim is to be ready if an active shooter ever chooses their campus. They ask that we don’t show their faces – so they don’t potentially become targets themselves. One woman works at a local elementary school.

“In my position, I am in charge of a lot of little people,” she told ABC4 News. “Being armed is very dangerous if you don’t know how to appropriately use the device or what is our best case. What’s best to do in each situation and I think something like this can provide us that opportunity.”

This is the first time the FASTER program has come to Utah. It was started in Ohio after 26 people were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut. Jeff Staggs is a FASTER instructor and the superintendent of a school district in Ohio.

“As educators, we felt helpless,” Staggs said. “You know ‘Could this happen in my school? What am I going to do if it does?’ and this program gives them a tool to help them.”

In addition to marksmanship, the course teaches tactical strategy, gunshot wound first aid and mental preparation to face a lethal threat.

John Benner, the founder of Tactical Defense Institute, created the training course.

“The mindset is more important than anything,” Benner said. “The tactics are next and the shooting is actually third but that being said we want them to be as good a shooter as they can be.” 

Instructors say one school resource officer per campus is not enough and just the possibility of armed and trained employees can deter shooters seeking a soft target.

 “That’s my goal is to prevent any school shootings in Utah altogether,” Brant Taylor of FASTER Utah said. 

“Ya know throwing a book at someone coming in with a gun…may or may not work,” Skaggs said. “But I want to give them a fighting chance and I believe this program gives them a fighting chance.”

At the end of the three and a half day training course, the teachers and principals will have the same firearms certification as law enforcement officers.

For most of them, the $1500 tuition is paid through donations.

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