Dozens of school districts in Ohio now allow teachers who have conceal-carry permits to pack heat on the job.
In several cases, boards of education have been pressed into adopting the policy by parents concerned about school shootings in the wake of the 2012 shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn. While an exact number of Buckeye State districts now allowing teachers to have guns in the classroom is not known, there are at least 40, according to Joe Eaton, director of FASTERsaveslives.org, a program affiliated with the Buckeye Firearms Foundation which sponsors training for teachers from the school districts,,
“The sad thing is that time is these situations in the most important factor,” Eaton said, “and waiting for outside help is just not a viable solution anymore.”
"The sooner they are stopped, the fewer people die. It is really that simple."
- Chad Baus. Buckeye Firearms Foundation
Teachers who recently took part in the program were taught not only about gun safety and use, but were taught paramedic skills and how to react to active shooter situations, according to WKRC in Cincinnati. Teachers and administrators trained side-by-side with local cops and paramedics at the Tactical Defense Institute in West Union, located in Adams County.
The training entailed practice scenarios in which the armed protector must find and subdue the threat as students flee a classroom. In addition to the combat training, those who attended the exercise were also given combat casualty training where they learned how to treat injuries at the scene with bandages and a tourniquet.
“Safety of our kids should not be a controversial issue. This is not about guns,” Jim Irvine, also with FASTERsaveslives.org and the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, said. “For nearly 60 years, not one student has died from a fire. That is due to a redundant, overlapping approach to safety.
“We should be copying that same method for incidents of violence in our schools," Irvine added. "You need something that is effective. Show us another method and we would invest in it.”
Chad Baus, of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, also stressed the importance of training educators in these skills.
“The single most important factor in active killer death toll is time,” he said in a statement to Foxnews.com. “The longer killers have their way in so-called ‘no-guns’ zones, the more people die. The sooner they are stopped, the fewer people die. It is really that simple.
“The importance of the decisions being made by these school districts to make sure that willing teachers and administrators have the proper tools to protect the children in their care cannot be overstated. Teachers will do anything for ‘their kids,’ including dying."
The 3,500-student Sidney, Ohio school district adopted the policy in the wake of the Connecticut attack, in which a troubled gunman killed 20 young children and six staff members before police arrived.
“It made us as a school district look at the system we had in place to keep our children safe,” Superintendent John Scheu told FoxNews.com. “We quickly learned that we didn’t have anything in place. We decided to be pro-active.”
Rules regarding gun handling differ from one district to another, with some allowing teachers to carry firearms in the classroom and others requiring the guns to be kept in locked safes, only accessible by trained teachers.
Nearly 40 teachers in Sidney volunteered to be part of a first-response team, in which they were trained and provided with bulletproof vests as well as handguns that are kept in biometric lock safes in various locations throughout each of the district's seven schools. It is part of a multi-layered approach as the schools also have buzzer-only entrances and armed security, comprised of ex-law enforcement officials, on duty during school hours.
“We learned that we may not stop a shooter from getting into the building. If they want to, they will find a way, but if they enter, we can stop them in seconds,” Scheu added.
Officials from FASTER say that school districts from at least five other states have reached out and expressed interest in the program.
Those on the other side of the gun debate say more guns won't make children safer, even if they are in the hands of trained teachers..
“It's profoundly sad," said Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "Ohio seems incapable of addressing the real problem, which is the disturbing number of households in this country that make firearms readily available to young men in crisis.
“What a message that sends to young people," Everitt added. "This is a profound moral failing. Perhaps the children themselves would have better solutions.”
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych