Parents and teachers are continually having a conversation about how to protect students should an active shooter become a reality at their school. While most states encourage teachers to lock the doors and instruct students to hide, some states are taking a different approach. They're allowing teachers to arm themselves and carry concealed in case the unthinkable happens in their presence.
But part of carrying a firearm is knowing how to use it and training is a must. And that's where sheriffs, like Mike Smith of Utah County, Utah come into play.
Smith hosted a training in Spanish Fork to make sure educators were properly trained and knew how to use their firearm to the best of their ability.
“If teachers are carrying guns, well, I want them to know how to use a gun,” Smith told NBC News.
One of the reasons this training exercise took place: a recent lockdown in a Salt Lake City school district. Deputies found unsecured firearms in purses and desks. Smith realized teachers were carrying firearms to school, especially around young children, but they weren't being trained.
The program is six weeks and completely voluntary, but Smith has seen an overwhelmingly positive response. The next six-week program has been scheduled and already has a waitlist, a testament that school officials are ready to be proactive.
In addition to learning about self-defense and utilizing their firearms, participants are taught first aid for gunshot wounds and de-escalation tactics.
Teachers, like fourth-grade teacher Jeff Mortensen, believe they have an obligation to keep kids safe.
"Those parents send those kids to school expecting that they're going to be kept safe. Right now that's on the teachers," Mortensen said. “That’s my job. They look to me as the person who’s going to keep them safe.”