Saturday, May 25 2013 4:36 PM EDT2013-05-25 20:36:14 GMT
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The Buckeye Firearms Foundation will be providing free firearms training to teachers and school administrative staff. This announcement following the devastating shooting that left 27 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT in December.
As of Wednesday, the Armed Teacher Training Program has attracted more than 600 applicants from several states including Ohio, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.
"We knew this would be popular, but the response has exceeded out expectations," said Jim Irvine, Chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation. "People doubted if we would fill the first class. That happened in hours. This is something many in our schools have been asking about for a long time."
While the state of Ohio generally prohibits firearms at school, the law includes a provision that allows teachers and staff to carry firearms if approved by the school board.
The Armed Teacher Training Program is completely voluntary.
"No one will be forced to be armed if they choose not to. The strategy is the same as ordinary concealed carry. No one will ever know who is or is not armed. Those who seek to do harm in schools should be met with armed resistance, even before law enforcement shows up. Over time, schools will no longer be considered easy, risk-free targets."
More than a third of the program's applicants are women.
While 70% of the applicants are teachers, applicants also include administrators, office staff and guidance councilors. More than half of the applicants work in high schools.
Graduates of the Armed Teacher Training Program will have to pass the same test as law enforcement.
The Buckeye Firearm Foundation is a non-profit organization and is funded entirely by private and corporate donations.
The Foundation along with Tactical Defense Institute are currently developing the curriculum and guidelines for the program.
The first class is expected to be in the Spring of 2013.