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Certified school safety trainer explains training for teachers looking to carry in school

HOUSTON – After several fatal school shootings, some school districts in Texas are considering the possibility of arming teachers, a topic that is controversial, but of the 1,000+ school districts in Texas, more than 170 districts have decided to let teachers or selected staff carry concealed weapons in school.

One certified school safety trainer explained a School Safety Certification program that aims to show armed instructors how to handle their concealed carry weapon in a classroom setting.

"What will you do at that point where [an active shooter] has bypassed all the other security measures, and he comes into your room? What will you do then?" asked certified school safety trainer Antonio Orozco III.

Orozco teaches the School Safety Certification program for teachers or school employees licensed to carry, showing them defense tactics specially crafted for school settings. Orozco said shooting and killing someone is always the last option, but he said it is an important one to have.

"You cannot use a ball-point pen, good words, or whatever moral story you want to give. It is, forgive me for saying this, shoot or be shot," Orozco said.

Texas code requires that school safety certification covers these four topics:

  • The protection of students
  • Interaction of license holders with first responders
  • Tactics for denying an intruder entry into a classroom facility
  • Methods for increasing a license holder's accuracy with a handgun while under duress
  • "The first things we need to address is the teacher needs to be aware of the situation. You're in your classroom, everything is going on normally, but then you hear what are considered popping sounds. In general, most of the public will say, 'It sounded like fireworks.' That's the first thought most people have," Orozco said. "We hope that through this training, that's not the first step [teachers] have."

    Orozco said that keeping children safe requires teachers to understand the importance of visibility.

    "You have high visibility from this door, the intruder can see in and you can see out, so the first thing we want [teachers] to do is turn the light off," Orozco said. "You would want to move your children to a place where the shooter would have no visibility of those children."

    The program is 15 to 20 hours long, which can be taught over the course of two days for those who already have a license to carry. This certification program is supposed to teach armed individuals to be able to shoot more accurately in high-pressure situations.

    "[When an active shooter is present] a person doesn't have time to sit back and reflect on what they're doing. They are already put to the test without them realizing it," Orozco said. "Shooting under duress doesn't just happen. It takes time and it takes practice. The goal is that teachers learn these skills and then practice."

    Orozco brings participants looking to be certified to a firing range where they move and shoot at "intruders," simulating a hostage situation.

    "This is not your regular LTC B27 target. This is a target that has a live-looking person holding a live-looking child," Orozco said.

    Orozco said it is meant to help armed individuals train for the stress of the situation and be able to still perform their shooting with accuracy.

    "The type of stanzas and movements that you have to go through in this part of the training puts more duress on you," Orozco said. "[This is] by far more difficult than your regular LTC training."

    If the participants pass this test along with the course, they will earn a School Safety Certification.

    READ: More about the debate over arming teachers

    However, no schools in Greater Houston allow teachers to carry concealed weapons.

    "I don't know anyone in the district who thinks that best way to avoid an active shooter is to have an active shootout," said HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

    However, Orozco argues that having a weapon in the classroom will save lives.

    "Those minutes are vital," Orozco said. "Several people could die in just a couple of minutes."