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Arming teachers: Three Michigan educators put to the test in active shooter drill

Posted at 8:27 PM, Mar 29, 2018

Lawmakers around the country are considering passing legislation that would allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom.

Those for and against have voiced their opinions. But now, three teachers in Michigan are putting the concept to the test.

Three teachers — one who’s never shot a gun before and two concealed pistol license (CPL) holders — agreed to be put through an active shooter drill.

“I’m a little nervous,” said Bob Fite. “I usually shoot at paper plates and at the gun range.”

Fite has been a high school social studies teacher for 35 years. He is also a CPL holder.

This active shooter training drill is what police use. Think of it as a big screen video game, except this scenario is all too real.

Fite had his finger on the trigger the whole time, which is dangerous. But he still hesitated to shoot and when he did, he missed the mark.

“There are lockers in the background. If that’s kids in the background, we got a problem,” he said.

“It’s a very touchy subject, and I don’t know where I stand. I really don’t,” said Chad Keisel is a high school biology teacher of 24 years.

He’s never shot a gun before. In the first training scenario, Chad was shot without even hitting the gunman.

“I thought it was only one guy, how easy is that? But if there’s kids running around in the background, I would not shoot,” he said.

Katherine Montie has only been a high school math teacher for a few months. She’s a CPL holder and during the practice round, it was clear she was a great shot.

In the first scenario, she kept calm and killed the suspect.

But in the second scenario, she didn’t realize there was more than one suspect that shot back at her. She was “killed” before she could hit one of the shooter.

“If I knew those students, that would have been a completely different situation, for sure,” she said.

Allen Park Police Sgt. Wayne Albright facilitated thie drill. He teaches students and school staff on the ALICE method, which doesn’t involve guns.

ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. Students and staff are trained to use a lockdown method while hiding under desks or furniture during a shooting or being proactive and doing whatever it takes to keep the shooter out of the room, or if unable to do so, using counter measure and evacuating.

For more information on Alice, click here

Sgt. Albright says teachers may not be able to handle emotional stress that comes with this type of training.

“You learn to distance yourself and separate your feelings from the actual scene. I don’t think teachers have been trained to do that,” he explained. “They don’t have to. They have a connection with those kids because that’s what they’re supposed to do.”

After the drill, the teachers expressed concern.

“I was shaking. I can feel it in my knees. I can feel it in my elbows,” Keisel explained. “It kind of froze me for a second and that was somebody I didn’t even know. And it wasn’t even real.”

If armed, the teachers say they’re not comfortable leaving their students in a classroom, while risking their own lives to hunt down a shooter.

“I would like to say I would be the hero, but I don’t know if I would be,” Keisel added.

“I would be locked down in my room making sure that nobody came through that door,” Fite said.

Being smaller in stature, Montie says if she were armed in the classroom, her mind would constantly be on her gun.

“What if one of my students tries to take that gun from me? Then you aren’t even thinking about an active shooter, you’re just thinking about every other day of the year,” she said.

One thing all three teachers agree, the training has to be extensive. ut they question where the funding would come from.

“I think it’s not as easy as hand teachers a gun, they are already there anyway they can just neutralize any threats because they all have guns and training,” Keisel said. 

“Come and try this and then answer the question, if it’s a wise thing?" Fite said.

A bill has been introduced into the Michigan state House that would allow teachers to carry a gun at school. 

The teachers we spoke with say even if the bill passes, they hope lawmakers will focus on additional security measures, not just arming teachers.