Local sheriff's office trains teachers to handle school shooters

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — As the national debate about arming teachers continues following the mass shooting of 17 people at a high school in Florida, a local sheriff’s office is providing training for teachers.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s office held a seminar for teachers about that very issue.

So far, no school district in Georgia has decided to let armed teachers in the classroom, but some are discussing the issue.

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Sheriff Butch Conway told Channel 2's Wendy Halloran that he wanted to look ahead and educate the educators about firearms in the event Georgia decides to arm teachers against school shooters.

"It’s a different time than what it was when I started teaching 30 years ago," teacher Kimberly Smith said.

With the surge in deadly school shootings, teachers from all over came to learn from the Sheriff’s Office during its “Responsible Carry for Educators” seminar on Saturday.


"9-11 happened and they expanded the Sky Marshal program, and when the Sky Marshal program kicked off, who else carried guns? The pilots. And everybody thought, 'Hey man, it’s the pilots job to fly not shoot,'" Chief Deputy Lou Solis of Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office said.

“My classroom is right at the front of the building. If anything were to occur, I would be right there in the middle of it, and it’s scary we have to consider that,” Pharr Elementary School special education teacher Missy Zabarac said.

But being holed up inside a classroom, hoping a shooter doesn't see anyone doesn't sound like a good idea to teacher to Zabarac. She told Halloran that she’s been exposed to guns while growing up.

"I’m open to considering it, because at the end of the day, they’re my number one priority," Zabarac said.

Teacher Kimberly Smith drove in from Alabama. She said she was willing to carry a gun at work and respond with force against an active shooter.

"I absolutely, positively am very pro-teacher carrying if they’ve had the proper training," Smith said.

Melissa Shirley is a physical education teacher at Mason Elementary School.

“I would like to be if that’s a possibility in the future, but I would go through tons of training before I would even think about it,” she said.

Educators learned what it takes to get a carry permit, gun laws, situational awareness in the classroom, use of force and what kind of gun and ammunition would be best for them.

"I feel like I'm leaving with more knowledge than I came with," Shirley said.

Halloran said no one she talked to on Saturday ruled out the possibility, if allowed, of carrying a gun to protect their students.