City sees uptick in gun safety course applications
Mt. Juliet police officials said there is an increase in the number of applications to attend their handgun safety course.
City commissioners recently approved a resolution that gives credits for teacher to take the course. They waived all fees for teachers within the city limits, county teachers pay $25 and out-of-county teachers $50.
Mayor Ed Hagerty and Vice Mayor James Maness penned the resolution in the wake of the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
"Right now this resolution just offers the handgun course free of charge for some school teachers," said Maness. "This does not change anything the Tennessee State Legislature plans to do about this issue of teachers being allowed to carry a registered gun. But, I hope the current laws will be changed to remove any obstacles now in place for teachers to defend themselves."
Currently all Wilson County schools are "gun free zones."
MJPD Chief James Hambrick said while he is "all for the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms," from a law enforcement perspective, he does not believe it would be a good idea for teachers to bring guns to school.
"Let's say there is an active shooter incident at a school in the midst of civilians – teachers – with guns," he said. "When we arrive, how do we know who the shooter is?"
He said also there's the possibility of a student somehow getting their hands on a gun. "I just think there is a potential of more negative coming from teachers with guns in schools."
Hambrick said there was talk of janitors being allowed to carry guns, "because they would be the first line of defense in the hallways."
"Where do you draw the line," he asked.
Hambrick said the school resource officer carrying a gun is a "better option than the faculty armed."
A first step to figuring out how to make schools safer is to figure out how best to secure schools structurally, Hambrick said.
"I know we have to do something," he said. "What I think is we need to get school board members, law enforcement and county and city officials to brainstorm and form a plan."
MJPD Sgt. Scott Fulton teaches the gun safety course. He said he could not correlate the Sandy Hook shootings and the subsequent credits for teachers to take the course to the uptick in applications for the course.
"But, I will say there is a surge," he said.
Currently there are 40 people on the waiting list to take the course. Class size is limited to12, said Fulton.
The course is taught the second Saturday each month, with this month's this past Saturday. Half the time is spent in the classroom and the other half at the shooting range.
Fulton said if teachers served in a specified role to protect and carry a gun, "more training should be provided," than the eight hour course. SROs are state certified with the law enforcement academy, and attend a 10-week course with updated training as well.
Fulton said he knows of one teacher who is in this month's class and several teachers have called him asking about the class.