North Carolina public-school employee Michelle Fish can’t take a gun to school. But that didn’t stop the 42-year-old elementary school librarian from recently participating in a daylong seminar on how to handle and carry a gun.
Fish was one of a dozen or so educators in the Tar Heel State who attended the free firearms training course at Triangle Krav Maga combat center in Cary, just west of the capital, Raleigh.
“I’m still debating whether I want to even have a gun of my own,” Fish tells AOL Jobs. “But I wanted to be well informed if I decide to do that.” (Fish asked to be identified by her maiden name to protect her privacy.)
North Carolina law bans bringing firearms, concealed or carried openly, to any public or private school or school-sponsored event, though since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., last month, some advocates have argued that teachers should be armed.
Fish, who is married and has a young son, says that she’s also considering other forms of personal protection such as pepper spray or a taser gun. Her concern is driven by the Sandy Hook shootings, in which 20 first graders and six adults died, as well as the killing spree at a Aurora, Colo., movie theater last July in which 12 people died. Closer to home, Fish says, several break-ins at homes in the county in which she lives have also left her feeling more vulnerable.
“Criminals are endangering good citizens’ lives, and I just wanted to be well-informed [of the laws] and how to protect me and my family,” says Fish of her decision to take the firearms training.
Triangle Krav Maga is among several groups nationwide that has held or plans to offer such training to school employees following the Sandy Hook shootings. Courses offered by the organizations, which mainly include gun-rights groups, have reported overwhelming response to the offerings.
In Ohio, the Buckeye Firearms Association reports that it has received more than 1,000 requests for the classes it’s planning to offer in the spring, which the group describes as “advanced training dealing with active killer scenarios.”
A majority — 70 percent — of those who have so far signed up are teachers, 14 percent are administrators and the balance is comprised of staff and other school employees, the association says. About 85 percent of the applicants are public-school employees and half work in high schools. A start date for the courses has yet to be set.
Fish, who has never used a gun before, said that she felt “so scared” on the evening before the firearms course, uncertain whether it was the right choice. But, she added, “I feel like how you battle fear is with information.”