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Another mass shooting – has solutions

by Jim Irvine

5:47PM Monday, October 5 2015

The latest mass killing at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has media and “experts” talking about what we should do about these events. Rather than talk about what we could do, or should do, or might do, let me tell you what we HAVE done.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Buckeye Firearms Foundation announced it would pay for a class of 24 educators to attend a three-day class conducted by John Benner at Tactical Defense Institute (TDI).

While our organization was mocked for thinking teachers would sign up for gun training, more than 1,000 educators were pleading to be included in the training.

In Newtown and other places, teachers and educators sacrificed their lives trying to save our kids. They stepped in front of a firing AR-15 attempting to shield children. Compare their bravery to the politicians who pass gun control in the dark of night because they know it is useless in preventing similar killings. If our educators are willing to die for our children, then we owe it them to give them the tools and skills to win these fights, stop the killer, treat the injured, hug our kids, and send them home to their parents.

This should not be a debate about guns; it should be a discussion about safety. That is the mission of the FASTERSavesLives.prg program sponsored by Buckeye Firearms Foundation.

Unable to instantly train all those who asked, we brought in internationally renowned expert Lt. Col. Dave Grossman to talk with them about the problem and solutions. He discussed mindset and what it takes to survive, and even thrive, in the toxic environment of killing. I remember a woman finding the discussion so emotionally difficult that she left the room crying. She took a few deep breaths, regained her composure, and went back in. “I owe it to my kids to learn these lessons.” Again, note the bravery of our educators.

The outpouring of thanks at the end of the day was gratifying, but more so were the comments that they would use the knowledge to change policy at their schools. They were on a mission to make their schools safer, and years later they have made and continue to be involved in improvements in their districts.

The first class was conducted in March of 2013. Though we trained in cold and snow, no one complained. The attitude educators brought to class was amazing. Teachers made great students. They listened, they learned, they practiced, and they executed. The pride they showed at completing their qualification shoot and successfully solving problems in force-on-force training was contagious. The financial support we received for what we were doing was overwhelming.

We could not train 24 out of 1,000+ people and call it a job well done. Donations outpaced expenses, so we added two more classes, then several more. We added Chris Cerino of Cerino Training Group as an instructor giving us a northern Ohio training location.

One of the most common comments at the end of a FASTER Saves Lives class is, “I’m a changed person, and I’m never going back to the way I was before.”

In 2014, we conducted another seven FASTER Saves Lives classes. Schools that had sent people through class the prior year wanted more people trained, and more training for those already carrying. We called on all schools to have trauma kits, and we have worked with schools to get them gear and train their people in its use. Benner designed a Level 2 class – three additional days of training where the scenarios become far more complex, difficult, and stressful. All graduates of this class received complementary trauma kits valued at $75 each.

This year (2015) we did more classes with Cerino and Benner. Our first class to fill up was the Level 2 class where students are required to have experience carrying guns in schools to be accepted. Instead of furnishing trauma kits only to Level 2 graduates, this year we gave them out at all classes. We have given away over $10,000 in trauma gear to our educators and helped other schools buy appropriate kits for their school and budget.

We have presented at the Ohio School Board Association’s “Capital Conference” on the topic of active killers and will have a booth again at their show in November.

We have met with school boards all over Ohio to help them understand active killer events and what they can do to prepare for, prevent, end, and recover from these events. We have seen the understanding and preparation of schools exceed our wildest dreams from a few years ago. And we have learned much from these relationships as we all work together for safer schools.

We have trained many School Recourse Officers (SRO’s) who are police officers who work in the schools providing a critical layer of security. We have seen police who have had initial concerns about the program take the time to listen and learn, and then embrace what we offer. We have seen relationships grow and watched cross-training programs develop between school staff and law enforcement as both continue to come up with effective ways to deal with school violence.

We have added in-school training, where trainers train the school staff in their own buildings. These classes include law enforcement and non-armed individuals, whom we train in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) to prevent the injured from bleeding to death. The best way to work together on event day is to be training together on a regular basis.

We have spent approximately $400,000 to make our schools safer, and we will continue to invest in our schools and educators. We have met with legislators in Ohio and other states to improve our laws and protect those who are protecting our children.

We have trained college staff, because we believe the killing of our college kids is just as wrong as the killing of our grade school kids.

We are committed to the safety of all our schools, and we are proud to have been involved in sharing of real solutions to violence in our society.

As far as we know, the FASTERSavesLives has trained more educators, invested more dollars, and offered more solutions than any program in the country. It is not because we are great; it is because our instructors Benner and Cerino are great. It is because the commitment the educators we have worked with are great. It is because people have supported us with their wallets and allowed us to fulfill the needs of our schools.

As you listen to others talk about what we SHOULD do, we are proud to talk about what we HAVE done.

We have graduated over 350 people from more than 100 districts, with over two dozen districts sending people through our Level 2 training. We have partnered with experts and school staff to keep our children safe. None of the bad things that detractors said “could happen” have occurred. One of our schools was the target of an active killer, but we saw the greatest success – the killing that didn’t happen. Another school’s relationship with law enforcement led to quickly solving a murder that reached across state lines.

The program is excellent. It works. We have real success stories and not one school that has authorized has terminated its program. The recent killings prove that our country has a long way to go, and we are ready to lead the way.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation President, BFA PAC Chairman and recipient of the NRA-ILA’s 2011 “Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award” the CCRKBA’s 2012 “Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award,” and the SAF’s 2015 “Defender of Freedom Award.”

Buckeye Firearms Foundation (501c3) president Jim Irvine introduces the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) Program

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