School staff enrolls in free Tulsa gun safety classes
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, January 20, 2013
1/20/13 at 8:01 AM
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April Clark said she will do whatever it takes to defend the children in her Tulsa pre-school class.
On Saturday, she made her way to the U.S. Shooting Academy, 6500 E. 66th St. North, to enroll in one of the free handgun classes that will be offered at the facility for teachers and other school staff.
"I will do whatever I need to do to protect my students," Clark said. "I hope I never have to, but I want to be prepared if I have to."
Dave Saye, manager of the U.S. Shooting Academy, said that everybody with the academy wants the public to comply with the law. However, he's optimistic that legislation will be passed in the near future to allow teachers and other school personnel with the proper training to be armed.
Paige Pulscher, a Glenpool High School counselor who previously worked as a teacher during her 22-year career in education, said she had been thinking about getting a handgun license. However, she said the killing of 20 elementary school students and six adults in Newtown, Conn., last month inspired her to come to the academy on Saturday to enroll in a class.
"I think something needs to change," Pulscher said.
Marcia Pinkston, also a Glenpool High School counselor, said she began her teaching career in 1999, the same year of the Columbine High School massacre. She now feels more strongly than ever that the "world is changing and we probably need to change with it."
Pinkston said she thinks anybody who intends to do harm at a school might reconsider such a plan if they knew they would encounter armed resistance.
Jessica Case, a teacher at Grissom Elementary School in Tulsa, said she has heard a wide range of opinions among colleagues when it comes to the concept of teachers having firearms.
Case, who signed up on Saturday for a handgun class with her 20-month-old child strapped to her back, said she wouldn't want to see it become mandatory for teachers to carry guns. Yet she wouldn't be opposed to having the option of being armed in the classroom as long as strict safety measures were in place.
Her husband, Jeremy Case, said he thinks it's a "great idea" for properly trained and certified teachers to be armed.
"Gun-free zones are magnets for lunatics," Jeremy Case said.
Bruce Fletcher, a patrol training officer with the Fort Smith (Ark.) Police Department, said in a mass-shooting situation someone is shot every 15 seconds on average.
Fletcher said even if police arrive within about four minutes of the first shot, a shooter can potentially kill 16 people before officers get to the scene.
With those statistics as a backdrop, Fletcher said he doesn't see a problem with school personnel receiving training to give them "more tools to use in a bad situation."
Fletcher, who said he plans to assist in some of the handgun classes at the academy, said teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers and janitors are all potential "first responders."
Mike Armstrong and Russell Tainpeah, a pair of Cushing Public Schools custodians, signed up on Saturday for handgun courses. They pointed out that people with jobs like theirs - in which they are roaming the hallways frequently - would be among the first to encounter a shooter, as opposed to teachers, who spend much of their days in their classrooms.
Lanie Jackson, an elementary school secretary in Warner, said she is the first person visitors to the school encounter.
Jackson said she is hopeful that laws will change to allow school employees with the proper training to be armed in order to defend students.
Jackson was helping people enroll in the classes and said she was delighted with the turnout on Saturday. Some people even were signing up before the event's official 10 a.m. start.
Saye said he expected more than 300 school personnel to take the free classes, which will take place on weekends in the coming weeks.
When asked why enrollment wasn't done online or over the phone, Saye said "to have them register in person sends a strong statement. I think it's a pretty powerful statement."
Original Print Headline: Shooting for safety
David Harper 918-581-8359
Lanie Jackson, a volunteer at U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa and an employee at Warner Elementary School in Warner, helps school employees sign up for classes at USAA on Saturday. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
Lanie Jackson talks with Tammy Wiles (center) and Patricia Hindenburg, both teachers at Foyil Public Schools after they signed up for gun training class at U.S. Shooting Academy on Saturday. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World