School security is a consideration for every school board member and administrator in the country. While spending money remodeling buildings, adding security technology and hiring more police are complicated solutions, those ideas are less controversial than the proposal to arm school teachers.
About a third of all states allow teachers or staff with a conceal-and-carry permit to pack a gun in school, as long as they have permission from the school board.
Nowhere in America right now is the issue of armed teachers more complicated than in Missouri.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D)
In July 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed legislation (SB 656) that would have allowed districts to designate "school protection officers" who would get special firearms training to carry a concealed weapon in the classroom.
"Arming teachers will not make our schools safer," Nixon said in his veto message. "I have supported and will continue to support the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers, but I cannot condone putting firearms in the hands of educators who should be focused on teaching our kids."
That hasn't stopped a dozen school districts in Missouri, mostly in rural areas around the Ozarks, from training teachers and arming them for the start of school.
"If you can't shoot you can't make it through this program," says Dan Wehmer, executive vice president of Shield Solutions in West Plains, Missouri. "I'll stack up my educators against almost any cop – local, county or state."
Shield Solutions was formed specifically to train teachers to shoot in schools. In Missouri, someone only needs eight hours of training to get a conceal-and-carry permit. Shield Solutions provides 40 hours of training, mostly on the range. Wehmer says 34 teachers so far have graduated from the program. They received training that includes shooting at moving targets and learning how to maneuver through a school in a combat situation. They also have to qualify three times per year and get an additional 24 hours of annual training.
The minimum firearms training for police cadets in Missouri is 66 hours, with four hours of additional training every three years, although some metropolitan departments double or even triple that training requirement.