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Local parents weigh in on guns in the classroom

Local parents weigh in on guns in the classroom

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Local parents weighed in Thursday on the school-safety debate that's making national headlines. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is offering free firearms training for teachers and administrators.

Maketa's offer follows on the heels of recent discussions about school safety. Four states across the U.S. have proposed state legislation that would make it easier for teachers to carry guns on campus. Maketa proposed training teachers on how to handle a gun; there is no mention of letting those teachers' guns into classrooms.

Parents and grandparents at Colorado Springs' Stratton Meadows Elementary School had mixed opinions about the possibility of teachers being armed.

"I don't agree with that at all, I do not agree with that. These are my grandkids. I don't want guns around my grandkids," said Donna Cockril.

Christina Steele is the mother of a 5-year-old and 7-year-old. She said she supports anything that keeps her children safe. She pointed to Sandy Hook Elementary School and said there are frightening people out there who could enter into a school building.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut left 26 people dead, 20 of the children, as well as the gunman. The shooting made gun regulations and school safety a hot topic nationally.

This is a complicated issue. Andrew Vaughan is the Deputy District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District. Vaughan says federal and state laws prohibit teachers from carrying guns on school campuses. Under the Gun-Free Zone Act, only law enforcement and district-contracted security guards are allowed to have guns in schools.

"This is not something a principal can act on on their own and say, 'I'm going to arm teachers and call them security guards,'" said Vaughan.

He said even if school districts tried to appoint teachers as security guards to get around the rule, the teachers would have to be acting as full-time security guards. Off-duty security guards cannot carry guns on campus. Vaughan said school districts therefore would have to convert their teachers to security guards and that would take those resources out of the classroom.

Vaughan said the Colorado legislature needs to tackle this issue first.

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