Last Modified: Friday, January 04, 2013 7:53 PM
Calcasieu Parish School Board employees authorized to carry firearms are being offered the chance to have training to deal with an armed intrusion.
The staff at Louisiana Shooters Unlimited, a non-profit firearms training school in Lake Charles, has offered this 40-hour National Rifle Association training course to employees free of charge. However, whether the board decides to go through with this is undetermined.
“I think it’s totally ridiculous; most schools have sheriff’s deputies, and I’m all for that,” said Bill Jongbloed, District 6 board member. “We have to be prudent here. I’m not in favor of arming teachers, and we don’t want to go overboard where the next thing we’re arming everyone in town.”
In his letter to board members, Matthew Courtney, the founder and lead trainer for the training school, said the course was developed to improve employee skills, mindset and awareness while decreasing risk to students or other faculty. Courtney also built upon La. Revised Statute 14.95.2 C. (3) which allows “anyone with written permission of the principal” to carry a firearm, writing this could “more forward to implement plans to protect our children without delay.”
Training staff consists of NRA instructors and training counselors who have a military background. This is the first kind of free course Courtney has offered since he started the organization in 2006.
Courtney, a former Sulphur High School teacher, said he has been aware of emergency response plans that have not been thought out, and by having school employees armed, this would be an unexpected deterrent for intruders.
“One of the biggest reasons we’re supporting an initiative that would allow employees to be armed rather than having more deputies and security guards there is that potential assailants really wouldn’t know who is armed,” he said. “The biggest hope is that it works as a deterrent so that no one tries to make an attack on Calcasieu Parish schools.”
Board President R.L. Webb said he would speak with Superintendent Wayne Savoy about the program. Webb said for school employees to carry firearms on schools campuses, a series of evaluations and strict procedures would have to be followed to see if a person were even qualified for this.
Courtney understands policies would have to be set up for both employees and students and that using a gun would be a last resort tool for defense.
“If a person wants to take training for personal and private purposes, I support that,” District 12 Board Member Joe Andrepont said. “This is something that would definitely need more discussion, but I don’t think as a system we’re there yet. We haven’t even discussed expanding the safe officer program yet.”
In addition to providing training, the school has offered to help create plans for employees and security to easily manage campuses to respond if there is an unauthorized intrusion. After employees are trained and a plan put in place, schools would then rehearse the response plans.
“We want to start out with some very basic situational awareness type things because having a firearm isn’t going to do you any good unless you can effectively respond to it,” Courtney said. “We’re prepared to train folks so we can really reduce the chances of a tragedy happening here in Southwest Louisiana. Our goal is to make it safer for our children; there’s nothing that’s more important than that.”