Why WA Sheriff Won’t Enforce New Gun Control Laws

Klickitat County, WA Sheriff, Bob Songer, is raising eyebrows by his statement that he will not enforce Washington State’s new gun control laws. Read more


Arm staff to stop killers quickly and keep school children safer

What is the answer to keeping children as safe as they can possibly be in schools? Read this Op-ed by Laura Carno on Keeping Schools Safe.


Armed Teachers: Their Time Has Come

By Laura Carno

July 29, 2017

What a different a year makes.

This time last year I returned to Colorado from Ohio, having taken part in a class that changed my life. The class is called FASTER, which stands for Faculty / Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. The program offers medical and firearms training for school staffers authorized to be armed on their campus. It began in Ohio, where Buckeye Firearms Foundation has trained this curriculum to more than 1,000 school staff members in the past five years.

I don’t work in a school, so how did attending FASTER change my life?

When I got back from Ohio, I wrote a blog called Keeping Kids Safe in a Broken World. I was in awe of those who attended the class.

  • Teachers
  • Principals
  • Janitors

They all vowed to place themselves between bullets and kids as part of training to learn how to stop the threat in order to save lives. Heroes all.

I was committed to bringing this lifesaving training to Colorado’s schools.

Less than 11 months later, Coloradans for Civil Liberties (CCL) and Independence Institute brought FASTERtraining to Colorado’s school staff members.

And the media took notice … regardless of ideology.

From Colorado’s local media like:

Denver’s ABC affiliateColorado Springs’ NBC affiliate, and the Denver Post;

to traditionally conservative outlets like:

The BlazeLouder with Crowder, and Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal;

to pro-gun publications like:

Bearing ArmsAmerica’s First Freedom, and Ammoland;

to traditionally liberal organizations like:

NPRWNYC in New York, and CNN Headline News;

to offers for me to write op-eds in:

The HillBreitbart, and The Greeley Tribune;

to international news websites like:

BBCSTV in Scotland, and various Latin American stations such as Prensa Latina.

In total, Colorado’s inaugural FASTER class has had nearly 80 media mentions. And nearly all of those mentions were neutral to positive in their coverage of armed staff.

That caught me by surprise. Even better?

All the mentions about CCL and Independence Institute providing this advanced FASTER training at little to no cost to the teacher, school or district, were positive.

There is growing national acceptance of the idea of armed teachers. Ohio has trained more than 1,000 school staff in the past five years. States like Pennsylvania are in the process of passing legislation to allow school districts to authorize staff members to be armed first responders on their campus.

Colorado has had this law on the books since 2004. Some states, such as Utah, have never disallowed the practice.

And there have not been any of the issues commonly pointed to by opponents of armed school staff, such as negligent discharge or students coming across the staff member’s firearm.

So what’s next?

If you are in Colorado and are a school staff member or school board member who wants to know more about this training, you can find out more information about the program. Or, just send me a note with how I can help.

If you are outside of Colorado and want information about bringing FASTER to your state, reach out to the great folks in Ohio who got this ball rolling.

If you love this idea of armed school staff, help us train those who are on our waiting list. In Colorado, we have enough on the waiting list to fill two more classes, and we’re currently raising money for partial or full scholarships for those who don’t have the budget for the full $1,000 class cost.

It’s easy for you to help, and it’s tax deductible.

Just go to Independence Institute’s contribution page to help us cover the cost of training. Be sure to type “FASTER” in the “Optional Contribution Description” field to make sure that your gift goes straight to FASTER Colorado.

Join me in this mission to keep Colorado’s school children as safe as they can possibly be.

Photo Credit: Complete Colorado

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Not One More Dime Radio Ad

As part of her campaign against Ballot Measure 2, Laura has created a new radio ad.

Please donate to help keep this ad on the air.


Not One More Dime

By Laura Carno

March 1, 2017

Warning: Mayor John Suthers and City Council Want to Raid TABOR

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and City Council want to take even more of your hard-earned money.


They are using a lawful mechanism to keep money that belongs to the taxpayers by misleading the voters in to thinking that there are no other alternatives to fund essential City services.

Back in 2015, I wrote a blog called Government Should Turn Over Every Stone Before Asking Us For More Money. At the time, I was talking about issues on the ballot then, including Colorado Springs issue 2C, also known as the “pothole tax.”

What I meant by my 2015 blog title is that since every dollar government spends is a dollar you and I earned, they should literally look everywhere in the existing budget for money they could reprioritize for essential services —before they ask us for more money.

That doesn’t seem like much to ask from our public servants, does it? It’s why Colorado passed the Taxpayer Bill Of Rights (TABOR).

But when ballots drop on March 11th for the April 4th election, Mayor John Suthers will again be picking our pockets asking us to pay more taxes. It’s called Ballot Measure 2, and here is the text of the measure:


What this means in normal language is that the city would like to keep the TABOR overage instead of refunding it to us. And TABOR means that politicians must ask us for permission before raising our taxes, or to keep excess tax revenues.

Ballot Measure 2 is the City of Colorado Springs asking for permission —because it’s our money and TABOR requires them to ask. Which is also why we love TABOR. It reminds politicians that the money belongs to us.

This will be the third such increase that Mayor Suthers has been in support of since he was elected in May of 2015. Even before he was elected, Suthers proposed 2C, referred to as the “pothole tax”, which eventually passed.

I ran a campaign against 2C here and here, but was outspent over 50 to 1.

Then in January of this year, Suthers joined a coalition of politicians to raise taxes for roads state-wide, an initiative launched by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. But taxpayers in Colorado Springs already pay City sales tax for Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA), the 2C “pothole tax”, and regular sales taxes that go into the general fund, some of which goes to road work.

And now Mayor Suthers and the City Council want even more of our money by keeping the TABOR overage that is owed to the taxpayers. The ballot measure says the money will go to StormWater projects.

The next logical questions then are, “Should we give them more of our hard earned money? Have they demonstrated that they have made prudent decisions with our money thus far?”

Has Mayor Suthers looked under every stone to redeploy money in the ever-growing City budget before asking us for more?

Let’s take a look at a small sample of the spending priorities for the City of Colorado Springs, where the City’s General Fund Budget has tripled in the past 20 years:

  • The City of Colorado Springs wasted $10,000 of taxpayers’ hard earned money on the failed Research Bike Lane Experiment that most people in the area neither needed nor asked for. The city also employs a bike path planner at a salary of $60,000 per year, whose position compels her to look for such projects.
  • 2C, the 2015 “pothole tax”, was sold as raising more revenue for roads, with the promise that general fund money would then be free to fund StormWater expenses. What happened to that freed up money?
  • Did you know you are paying for a City Pharmacy with deeply discounted prices for City employees? Is there a reason City employees don’t go to a commercial drug store like the rest of us do? Hardworking taxpayers are footing the bill for this.
  • You are also paying for City employees to go to a free City medical clinic. Look at all the wellness freebies you pay for, but get no benefit from. Why should taxpayers be on the hook for these luxuries when most of us don’t have these kinds of platinum-level benefits? Why can’t City employees go to a regular doctor’s office, just like the rest of us? Should Shaving For Bald Men even be a thing for some people only, shaving needs are for everyone just as is the rest of our health and wellness!

Again, are Mayor Suthers and the City Council responsibly spending our tax money now? Do they deserve more of it? The obvious answer is: No.

We haven’t heard one word from Mayor Suthers since he was elected in 2015 about finding efficiencies in the budget. Not one word about redirecting money to the highest priority services in the City. Not one word about looking at outsourcing to save our precious tax dollars. Not one word.

Instead of trying to do anything to make government more efficient and effective, Mayor Suthers and the City Council seem focused on growing government and raising taxes.

And if I were a betting person, I’d bet we will see even more tax increases after the April City Council election. Watch specifically for them to bring back the failed 2014 StormWater Enterprise, along with its mandatory fee.

We will hear all kinds of spin: It’s for the cops, or the kids, or some other cause that intends to pull at our heartstrings. But the fact remains that as long as we have frivolous expenditures like bike path planners and City pharmacies and free medical clinics, the voters of Colorado Springs should take a stand. Not one more dimeuntil they reprioritize our hard earned tax dollars on essential services.

Take a stand against politicians who forget that every dollar they spend is a dollar you and I earned. Ballot Measure 2 is just wrong.

Check out the original post here


What Difference Does It Make?

By Laura Carno

January 15, 2017

What Difference Does It Make? A Case For Book Reviews.

As a newer author, I’m accustomed to asking readers to post a review on I get a lot of feedback from readers about what they found interesting about my book, how it made them feel differently about an aspect of politics, or how it caused them to re-think a deeply held belief or political position.

I always ask them to share their thoughts as a review on Amazon, because of the benefits to both the reader and the author.

Posting Amazon book reviews does a few things:

  • Reviews provide information to prospective purchasers that helps them decide whether or not they might like the book
  • The 5-star rating system helps purchasers determine at a glance how much others liked the book
  • Reviews are a feedback mechanism to the author about what people enjoyed, or didn’t enjoy about the book
  • Reviews get the author plugged in to the secret Amazon algorithms that cause the book to be “plugged” on different parts of the site

If you already own a copy of my book, Government Ruins Nearly Everything, and haven’t yet written a review, I hope you will consider doing so.

What difference does a review make? A lot of difference, and it only takes a minute.

What’s that you say? You don’t have your own copy of Government Ruins Nearly Everything yet? Here is a sample of some of the 5-star reviews that other readers have posted, so that they can help you decide whether to buy a copy:

I would highly recommend that high schools incorporate this book in Political Science Classes

This is the most well balanced informative political book that I have ever read. The author gave a fair factual balance of views from both sides of the aisle. With all these hard line books out there, it was a pleasure to read this one. I would highly recommend that high schools incorporate this book in the Political Science Classes. It’s that good.

Laura Carno has written an excellent book on choice verses government control

Clear, concise and cogent. Laura Carno has written an excellent book on choice verses government control. She reminds the reader of the proper role of government which is to protect our rights, mediate disputes, and defend the nation. Period. Not afraid to confront the “Fireworks” issues of Abortion, Guns, Schools and Same-Sex marriage, Carno shares stories and insights, with many solutions to these hot button issues. A good primer for those who want a better understanding of how to reclaim social issues from government control and let the free market of ideas and interactions work. A good discussion book for a book club.

Choose personal freedom over government coercion.

Meticulously researched, but not in an intimidating fashion. Equally well-reasoned and expressed, and easy to read. Should be encouraged especially for socially and politically disaffected young people.


This is an awesome book! Every politician, government employee and every citizen in the US should read it! The solutions to the major issues facing our country offered by the author were real, practical and eye opening. Amazing. Everyone should read it!

Fantastic easy read that will change how you think about government’s role in our lives

Read that will change how you think about politics and the government’s role in our lives! Great for young people….

I hope these reviews have piqued your curiosity, and have encouraged you to purchase your first copy of Government Ruins Nearly Everything, or to buy an additional copy for a friend.

It’s available at in paperback, Kindle and Audible versions. If you are looking for a signed copy, you can order one here.

I regularly do speaking engagements that include book signings. Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter to be informed of upcoming events in your area. If you have an event you would like to talk about, take a look here and let me know more about your event.

Thank you!


See the original post here


Government Ruins Research Parkway

By Laura Carno

November 25, 2016

Colorado Springs residents who live, visit or shop on the north side of town are familiar with Research Parkway. Between the Briargate Parkway and Academy Boulevard exits from I25, it is a main thoroughfare for residents on the east side of Colorado Springs to get to their jobs in Briargate, or downtown via the Interstate. And it’s a big, wide road as its name Research Parkway would indicate —3 lanes on each side, with a lovely landscaped median in the middle.

Imagine the surprise of those who use Research Parkway when, on September 28th 2016, the City of Colorado Springs removed one lane on each side of Research Parkway and turned them in to buffered bike lanes. This means that a full car lane is taken up with a buffered portion and a bike lane portion.

This seems odd, because Research Parkway already has a sidewalk on each side of the street. The south sidewalk is 10 feet wide and was constructed with the express intent of pedestrians and cyclists sharing that sidewalk.

In October, area residents launched a Facebook Page called Restore Research, and a website of the same name. On both pages, they have posted their reasons for being opposed to the bike lanes and the manner in which they were implemented. They also have a petition that will be delivered to City officials who are behind this project. They encourage petition signers to write a message to these officials in addition to simply signing the petition.

The change to Research Parkway isn’t the only change of concern to city residents. Another group called Safer CC is concerned about the safety of Colorado College students in the Old North End Neighborhood in the face of the city pushing a similar proposal there. Safer CC has responded with a website, Facebook page and petition of their own.

And all of this is happening while other cities —including Boulder Colorado— that have tried similar redesigns have rolled them back. Why? They cite worse congestion and more accidents.

So, why all the attention to bike lanes in the City of Colorado Springs? In March, the city hired Kate Brady to be its Senior Bicycle Planner. In an interview, Brady admits that, “change is hard,” but residents wonder why city officials made the decision without the consent of those who use Research Parkway. Mayor John Suthers said, “We do know that there is an adjustment factor,” while residents wonder why they should be the ones adjusting.

Colorado Springs currently has a Silver designation with the League of American Bicyclists. In order to have a Gold designation, the League suggest cities take three steps:

  • Hire full-time bicycle coordinator and provide funding to implement a comprehensive program
  • Continue to develop on-street bikeway network and improve crossings where trails intersect roadways
  • Expand bicycle education efforts in elementary and secondary schools

Just doing some quick math here, it seems that the City of Colorado Springs is looking to raise its status with the League of American Bicyclists by making decisions without regard to the opinions of the citizens it impacts.

When I authored the book Government Ruins Nearly Everything, I encouraged ordinary Americans to take a stand when their government makes decisions that create problems or when it makes problems worse. I applaud the efforts of Restore Research and Safer CC for taking a stand to hold their government accountable.

Join these groups, sign their petitions, and demand a government that knows whom it serves.

See the original post here.


Thank you to America’s First Freedom for asking me what it’s like to be on Hillary’s enemies list

America’s 1st Freedom

By Laura Carno

September 23, 2016

In response to a Democratic presidential debate question on Oct. 13, 2015, Hillary Clinton put the 5 million members of the NRA at the top of the list of enemies she is most proud of.

This is unprecedented: On national television, a candidate for president of the United States named peaceable, law-abiding gun owners, who are simply trying to protect the Second Amendment, as her biggest enemies. She even listed NRA members ahead of Iran—the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. Drug cartels, Vladimir Putin, North Korea and ISIS terrorists didn’t even get a mention.

Clinton’s declaration made us wonder how NRA members feel about being recklessly declared her enemy. So we decided to ask them: How does it feel to be named Public Enemy Number 1 by Hillary Clinton?

Today we hear from I Am Created Equal’s Laura Carno, a political media strategist who was instrumental in the recall of Colorado state Sen. John Morse. 

I have no armed security detail. In fact, I am my own security detail.I’m delighted to be on Hillary Clinton’s enemies list. She says that NRA members are the enemies she’s most proud of. Well, guess what, Madam Secretary? I’m proud to be on your list. 

If I’m on your list, it sounds like I must have done something terrible to you. Is it that I have the nerve to want to keep and bear my own arms for the defense of myself and my family? Is it that I’m not content to simply dial 911 and wait? Is it that I encourage others to think about taking responsibility for their own self-defense? Why is that such a threat to you?

Hillary Clinton is free to make whatever decisions she’d like for her own life. I likely wouldn’t have made those same decisions, but I don’t get to choose for her life. I only choose for my life. And Clinton doesn’t get to choose for me.

I’m not sure if Hillary has watched the news lately, but it’s a dangerous world out there. Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernardino, Orlando. Had she been in any of those locations when dozens were killed, she might have fared better than the rest of us. She has a full-time armed security detail. Living a life in a protective bubble has made her forget how the rest of America lives.

I have no armed security detail. In fact, I am my own security detail.

It’s not Clinton’s job to make personal life and death decisions for me. I am a concealed-carry permit holder—a member of the most law-abiding segment of society. She won’t acknowledge that the same people she doesn’t trust with guns are precisely the people who could have saved lives in Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernardino and Orlando.I am a free adult American woman who is accustomed to making my own decisions without the help of anyone, especially the president of the United States.

Many sheriffs are pleading with citizens to protect themselves. These sheriffs know that they can’t be everywhere at the exact time a crime will be committed. They trust the average American to protect her own life. But Clinton doesn’t. She thinks that we are incapable of safely defending ourselves, so we should just wait. Wait for help to come. And she doesn’t care if it comes too late.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know why I choose to carry a concealed firearm. She knows nothing about my family circumstances. She doesn’t know what it’s like to walk to her car, by herself, in a dark parking garage, which at least have a secure door, if you want this at your garage as well, discover more here online for this. She doesn’t know what it’s like to fill up her car with gas in the early morning hours on the way to one of her two jobs. She doesn’t know what it’s like to hear a window break in the middle of the night and be the only one home to investigate. She doesn’t know me—yet I’m her enemy?

Clinton says she is the candidate for women, and that she will advance the lives of women through her presidency. I’m not sure what women she’s talking about, but I don’t need her help. I am a free adult American woman who is accustomed to making my own decisions without the help of anyone, especially the president of the United States.

Is Clinton really running for president with a policy that my safety and the safety of my family is hers to decide? Is she really running for president to decide how we should best defend ourselves?

How does it feel to be on Hillary’s enemies list? Mrs. Clinton, if you put people like me—the most law-abiding among us—on your enemies list, that speaks volumes about the kind of president you want to be.

See the original post here.


Parents Know Best… When It Comes To School Choice

By Laura Carno

August 13, 2016

Who knows how to educate your children better, you or some faceless bureaucrat at the Federal Department of Education?

While a few parents might want others to make key decisions regarding their child’s education, most believe they know their own kids better than any government official.

So how do parents choose the best schools for their kids?

We hear a lot about STEM schools that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Does that mean charter and private schools are only for those who excel in certain subjects or have specific aptitudes? Absolutely not.

Take the example of Crossroads School in Longmont, Colo. Ross Izard of Colorado’s Independence Institute offers a brief description, where he describes Crossroads School as, “a school for kids who haven’t been able to find an educational home anywhere else.” Ross also wrote a longer profile of his visit to Crossroads.

It is … inspiring.

I dare a bureaucrat to watch Ross’s video or read his profile on Crossroads School and say that they know better than Dakota’s grandparents how to educate Dakota. And Crossroads isn’t the only school that takes on the kids who need a more unique approach to their individualized education.

I talk about many of these schools in my book, Government Ruins Nearly Everything. Spectrum School serves students on the autism spectrum. MAX Charter School teaches only dyslexic students.

Related: Moving Toward A Free Market In Education

The Department of Education didn’t come up with the idea for Crossroads or Spectrum or MAX. Nor do officials from the Department of Education have the emotional connections to think about students who learn differently.

Parents, relatives and community members of those who need their education packaged in a different way invented these schools.

Parents are best suited to make all kinds of decisions —the big decisions and the small decisions— for their own kids. Is there any decision a parent makes that impacts their child’s entire life more than how they are educated?

Education has been called the civil rights issue of our day. Students in failing schools are left behind, have a higher chance at remaining in poverty and a higher chance of landing in prison.

No parent wants that for their child.

The 2010 documentary “Waiting For ‘Superman’” details the heartbreak of students stuck in failing schools.

What can parents do?

They can get their kids out of failing schools and in to schools that work. Does that mean the move to charter and private schools will leave neighborhood schools behind? Not in the least.

Competition always improves all the competitors, not just the winner. If school choice is not possible in your state, parents have to demand their state lawmakers change the laws. The stories in “Waiting For ‘Superman’” are heartbreaking.
We can do better.

It’s your job —your obligation— to find the school, whether traditional neighborhood school, private school, charter school or homeschool, that will best educate your kids.

If your state doesn’t allow you to make that choice, remind your politicians that they are public servants who work for you, and that you demand they remove your barriers to choice.

This time, it’s really for the children.

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Keeping Kids Safe In A Broken World

By Laura Carno

August 3, 2016

Children are being murdered in their schools while politicians trade talking points and campaign promises about school safety. Our children are neither partisans nor political chess pieces. What can we do to keep our children safe while politicians jockey for position in back rooms? I met some heroes who found a solution that saves lives. Here is what they found.

Sandy Hook

On December 14, 2012, a shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary School. In only 10 minutes, the murderer killed 20 young children and 6 adults. The 911 calls were heartbreaking.

Two school administrators ran toward the sound of gunfire empty handed. Both of them were murdered. Victoria Soto, a 27-year old first grade teacher, died while physically shielding her students from the murderer. All she had to protect and defend her students from a madman, was her body.

The Newtown, CT police arrived in five minutes but waited to enter the school. The murderer killed himself before police reached him. It was another 30 minutes before medical personnel entered the school and treated those still alive.

In the wild, a “Mama Bear” will fight to protect her own cubs. She doesn’t fight to protect the cubs of other bears. Our teachers and faculty members are different. These teachers risked their lives for our kids. These are remarkable people who don’t deserve to die. What can we do to help these heroes as they protect and defend our children?

Buckeye Firearms Association

The day of the Sandy Hook Murders, some of the board members from Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA) had a conference call to discuss the tragedy. One said, “All those teachers had to defend their children were their bodies, and they sacrificed their lives to save those kids. We have to do better.” The board members talked about training teachers to save lives in the first critical seconds of a violent attack on their school. That night, the idea of FASTER was born.


FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. On its website, the program calls itself, “…a carefully-structured curriculum offering over 26 hours of hands-on training over a 3-day class that exceeds the requirements of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. The purpose is not to replace police and EMT, but to allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel on-site to stop school violence rapidly and render medical aid immediately.

When BFA conceived of the idea of FASTER, they knew they would need to remove any barriers that might get in the way of teachers attending. They raised their own funds to pay for the training. They founded Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF), and ordinary citizens across the country gave their hard earned money to help teachers defend kids. When FASTER offered their first class for 24 students in 2013, 2500 teachers and administrators signed up. One BFF board member described the reverence he has for the teachers who volunteer. He said, “These are teachers will stand between a murderer and your kids.” That was three years ago.

Today the media is paying attention. Through this month, FASTER has trained approximately 650 teachers and administrators in 152 Ohio school districts, in 63 out of Ohio’s 88 counties. Word of the program has spread. Teachers and administrators from 6 other states have also taken the training course.

Teachers want this. Administrators want this. Most importantly, parents want this.

Although the FASTER and BFF teams are all volunteers, the money they raise goes to the remarkable trainers at the Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) and the Cerino Training Group. Both are world-class tactical training organizations who adapted their training to fit a teacher’s specific needs.

Most of the trainers have backgrounds as police, SWAT and federal law enforcement officers. They take this training seriously, as do the teachers. With each exercise, they know that this one skill taught to this one teacher may make the difference between people living or dying. It’s evident in everything they do.

FASTER Level 1

My friend Rob Morse attended Faster Level 1 in June of this year as an observer. He documented his experiences in his blog Armed Heroes In Teachers Clothing.

To take the FASTER training, the volunteers must already have their state concealed carry license. Teachers and administrators whose school districts had already authorized armed defenders were given first priority for class space. Members of BFF also met with the participating school boards to make sure they had a commitment to the program. School boards in make sure they have the best childcare and in Ohio they retain full authority to allow or reject having armed teachers in their schools. Some states prohibit school districts from making that decision.

All the armed defenders are volunteers. In Rob’s article above, you can see his deep respect for these teachers. They know that they may be called upon to defend their students. It’s a heavy burden that they take very seriously.

FASTER Level 2

I was invited to attend FASTER Level 2 as an observer. The Level 2 training is for teachers and administrators who have already been through FASTER Level 1, and have typically been a first responder in their school for a year. Some are the only defender at their school, while other schools have several. One first grade teacher I spoke with is part of a team of 10.


We started Day 1 in the classroom. There was one administrator in the room that we’ll call Paul. He was asked to share an incident that occurred after he attended the first training class. Although Paul is an administrator at an elementary school, the incident involved an older, disturbed and armed student. Paul faced a lethal threat and had to draw his firearm. Because of what he learned, he was able to peacefully resolve the situation without firing a shot. He credits FASTER for saving his life, and the life of the disturbed young man. He is grateful that the armed student can now get the help he needs.

I asked Paul how he became an armed defender at his school. He said, “There had been an incident at a neighboring school, and then after Sandy Hook, our school board members said, “We wish we had some personnel armed here.” The school board sent him to take the training and report back to the board. Paul said, “Even if the first responder is next door to the school, they can’t get here faster than a bad guy can squeeze the trigger. We need help to be on campus before trouble starts.”

Of slightly less importance is the fiscal impact of having teachers and administrators as armed defenders. It is less expensive to have armed defenders who are already on staff than it is to hire a School Resource Officer.

Range Time

The training includes live fire exercises. That meant time at the pistol range on a sweltering 95-degree day with a heat index of 120. The range exercises were brutal in that heat. With an instructor to student ratio on the range of 2:1, there was a lot of coaching going on: tweaking a grip here, adjusting a stance there. Time and again, the trainers told students that, “You don’t rise to the occasion, but you fall to the level of your continued training.” Most of the armed defenders I spoke to practice once a month.

Everything on the range is about safety.

  • There are accuracy drills. Accuracy means safety, because you only hit the threat, not what’s around him.
  • There are speed drills. Speed means safety, because reducing the time that the threat is active reduces injury and death.
  • There are essentials drills. Solid essentials mean safety, because practicing causes the basics to come back to you the moment that you need them, as they are retrieved from the unconscious memory.
  • There are move and shoot drills. Move and shoot means safety, because it practices getting between the attacker and innocent victims.
  • There are cover and concealment drills. Cover and concealment means safety, because the defender has to stay alive in order to defend the children.

In between sessions at the range, they take breaks in the shade. They reload their magazines, which sounds like a herd of metallic crickets. They have a snack or lunch. They talk as easily about holsters as they do about smoked pork recipes. These are very ordinary people with an extraordinary responsibility. On these breaks, the trainers talk to the assembled group about what trends they saw in the previous practice sessions. The class learns a lesson from the experience of every student.


The FASTER program is a model for everyone. I spoke with Kevin Kuhens from Freedom Training Group (FTG) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin is a retired Federal law enforcement agent with a background in training agents and officers. He is the Executive Director for Training at FTG, which is in the process of providing FASTER training to educators and administrators in Kentucky. Currently, FTG conducts similar training for religious and other private organizations, businesses and corporations. FTG is the driving force behind bringing FASTER to Kentucky and coordinating with community and business leaders to establish a foundation based on the BFF model, which will enable people to donate money to fund FASTER training for teachers and administrators.

Kevin described his interest in teaching educators to be armed, “FTG’s mission is training law abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families. Many educators have come to FTG and expressed frustration and disappointment at their school board’s failure to grant permission for them to be armed in the schools.” Kevin underscored the reasons why training educators is so vitally important. “If an incident occurs, they are on the inside of the event as it unfolds and can eliminate the active shooter/killer in seconds, not in the minutes it takes for law enforcement to arrive.” Kevin was unyielding on this point. “The Sandy Hook teachers gave their lives willingly for their students. Regrettably, their only option was to stand defenseless between their students and the killer, minimally delaying their certain deaths. Those in a position to give teachers permission to be armed, and those of us who can teach them these skills, cannot stand idly by while innocents are slaughtered in these type of tragedies.”

When asked why he looked to TDI to partner in this training, Kevin said, “FTG shares Mr. Benner’s (President of TDI) mindset —there is no more important mission than training others to defend the defenseless. TDI blazed the trail for us with the FASTER training program —it is the gold standard.” Kevin emphasized those responsible for the safety and security of our children have but one option. “Give educators and administrators the authority to be armed. Let them stop the active shooter/killer before he can inflict his carnage in the minutes before authorities arrive.” Kevin directed his next comments to the professional trainers who have the skills to train armed educators and administrators. “It must be our mission to give them the training to eliminate these threats. Anything less is wholly unacceptable on every level.”


How are the insurance premiums of schools and districts impacted once they have armed defenders in their schools? Representatives of FASTER said their feedback indicates there are insurance companies that are friendlier than others to the idea of armed defenders in schools. Additional premium charges range from no increase, a small per person increase to charges bordering on price gouging for having armed defenders on campus. Some have gone as far as threatening schools with non-renewal if they decide to arm their staff. Schools need to be willing to shop around for insurance and remember that saving lives is the goal, even if there is a small price to pay in increased insurance premiums.

Days 2 and 3

Days 2 and 3 had some work on the shooting range, but also included advanced skills. Students learned hand-to-hand non-lethal techniques, and some added complexities that taxed their decision-making skills. Tiny nuances made the difference between stopping a threat and not stopping a threat. One trainer put it this way, “Yes, it’s hard. AND your students’ lives depend on it. Why die to protect your kids when you can protect them and live?” Said another trainer, “This attacker wants to kill you to get to the kids. You can’t let that happen. You have to protect the kids and you can’t do that if you’re dead. We have to win.”

There has been research and reporting on the optimum number of armed defenders in a school. The bottom line, one per building per floor is seen as a standard.

Quickly stopping the threat opens the way for “second responders” who have medical trauma training but who are not armed. Many in the media miss this fact. FASTER isn’t about guns in schools, but about stopping a threat so first responders can save lives. These teachers added even more emergency trauma training in addition to what they had in their first FASTER class.

I had a conversation with two teachers who were of much smaller stature than the average attendee after some of the non-lethal skills training. It looked to me like they were able to have an impact, even given the size disparity. Both of these teachers confirmed that and were happy for their new skills.

One teacher we’ll call Ellen, said, “There is no size or gender here. We are all equal here and we are here to make schools safe for the kids. School is supposed to be a safe place, but the reality is, it’s not safe anymore. It’s our job to make it safe. We don’t do this training out of fear —we do this to prepare.”

Another teacher we’ll call Kellie said, “It’s a mindset issue. FASTER Level 1 taught me awareness of everything. When I got back last year, I looked at my classroom differently. I went through scenarios in my mind in my own classroom. What if someone came from this direction and took this action? I actually rearranged my classroom to make it safer.”

Later in the day, I was able to try the hand-to-hand skills myself with a 240-pound trainer. Although I don’t have as small a frame as Ellen and Kellie, I agree with them on how effective the skills are. They aren’t going to stop an armed attacker, but not every incident is a lethal incident.

Bringing FASTER To Your State

I was beyond impressed by this training and the teacher volunteers. I was in awe of their commitment. What has to happen before this training could come to your state? First, check your local laws to see if armed defenders in schools are already legal, or if there are roadblocks in the way. Contact your state legislators and demand that they pass legislation to allow teachers and administrators to defend your kids in school.

Second, once the laws in your state support it, or if it is already legal, reach out to the folks at BFF and FASTER. Every situation is different, and they want to help. They will also know if someone from your state has already contacted them, as Kevin Kuhens from Kentucky has already done.

Some politicians argue against armed staff in schools. FASTER has thousands of person-years worth of experience. There is no politician who has studied emergency response in schools like FASTER has. Lean on FASTER’s expertise to train both teachers and politicians.

This Shouldn’t Be Political

Our children are not partisans; they are not political chess pieces. Politicians promote the fantasy that guns should never be allowed in schools. But those same politicians need to face the reality that disturbed or evil people do bring guns in to schools. The news shows us what happens when we leave schools unarmed. Experts have shown us what will actually work to save lives. Let politicians issue their press releases over gun control, mental health, and gun-free zones. In the meantime, kids are dying. Let us do something that actually make kids safer today.

One teacher said, “We live in a broken world. Hoping that killers won’t go on rampages doesn’t stop them. Only a competent, trained, armed defender can deal with the reality that bad people are out there in our broken world. It’s our job to stop them.”

It is our job too.

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