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Arizona group offering free gun safety classes to teachers

LISTEN: Teachers can take free gun safety classes

As the debate continues over the best ways to make schools safer, one Valley group is offering teachers free gun safety classes.

Safe Arizona Firearms Education is offering the classes throughout April and May. Owner Gerard Violette said it’s meant to help teachers be prepared in case of a school shooting, like the one in Parkland, Fla., in February.

“If something like that should happen in a school that my kids went to, I’d want the teachers to be able to properly protect my children,” Violette said.

The five-hour class teaches how to own and operate a gun, along with lessons from basic firearm safety to when and when not to shoot.

“It’s designed to be a very good introduction into the gun world for those who are looking to get into possibly carrying a firearms,” Violette said.

He said his group started offering the classes for free after teachers reached out, asking to be trained. He said they wanted to be ready in case their school districts allowed them to carry a gun on campus.

Teachers are allowed to carry guns on school campuses as long as they get permission from their local school board, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said in March.

Douglas cited a state statute that said the governing board shall “prescribe and enforce policies and procedures that prohibit a person from carrying or possessing a weapon on school grounds unless the person is a peace officer or has obtained specific authorization from the school administrator.”

However, Douglas said she is not in favor of forcing teachers to carry a gun.

Violette said reaction to the classes has mostly been positive.

“We’ve signed up a little bit over 100 teachers,” he said. “I’m happy to see teachers showing an interest.”

Teachers can sign up for the free gun safety classes through the Safe Arizona Firearms Education website. Classes are offered in about 20 different cities across the state.

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