Thursday, May 16, 2013

UT:Gun school for southern Utah teachers: Free training on a firing range

Wasatch Front teachers had their concealed-weapons crash course over Christmas. Now, five months after the Sandy Hook slayings, Utah’s leading gun lobby is offering a second concealed-training session for educators who plan to carry guns on campus — this time in St. George and with a live ammo shooting range.

The Utah Shooting Sports Council will put on this weekend’s gun school for free, saying it wants to help all school employees better protect their students and themselves. Similar classes have drawn fresh interest across the nation since the Dec. 14 slaughter of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., and the subsequent National Rifle Association call for armed teachers to tighten security.

That message resonated for Melanie Spencer, a special education aide at Valley High School in Orderville, who plans to attend the weekend course, get a permit and carry a gun to school.

"I want to go I guess to be prepared in case we have any crisis in our school," says Spencer, an Orderville native whose experience with guns comes mostly from the annual deer hunt. "We don’t have a lot of problems here, but it could happen here."

The session opens Friday evening at the Dixie Center, where attendees will learn how to handle a firearm, how to load and unload, and the highlights of Utah’s handgun and use-of-force laws. On Saturday, certified range-safety instructors will provide guns and ammo for any educator who wants to squeeze off some rounds at the Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park. Attendees are encouraged to pack their own guns and accessories, but plenty of extras will be on hand.

"We’re not arming teachers, we’re educating teachers," explains Clark Aposhian, the council chairman and a tactical firearm instructor. He says the majority of people registered hail from Kanab, Kanarraville, Cedar City, St. George and Hurricane. "We’re expecting to fill it up."

The Dixie Center lists the estimated number of attendees at 200. Aposhian says roughly 70 have signed up, but he expects more.

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