Area educators participate in free gun safety class

TULSA - Close to a dozen Tulsa area teachers participated in a free hand gun safety class put on by OK2A Saturday.

The class began at SpiritLife Church Saturday morning with hours of study over Oklahoma gun laws, gun safety, gun differentiation and the fundamentals of holding and shooting hand guns.

Among the participants was Joanna Bentley, a swim coach at Memorial High School and a proponent of proposed legislation to allow school staff to carry weapons on school grounds.

"Legislation needs to take a look at it, move forward with it. Don't hide behind fear of guns. Learn how to use them for all the right reasons, not for the wrong reasons," she said.

Some educators, like Bartlesville Public Schools superintendent Gary Quinn, a member of the Oklahoma Commission on School Safety, have argued against the idea because it might create a bunker mentality for students in the schools.

Bentley, however, doesn't see it that way. She believes students might feel safer knowing that there are teachers in their building ready to fend off an armed gunman.

"If we're going to look at locking down schools, we need to look at enabling the teachers to know how to be helpful," she said.

Following their overview, the group was taken to the Tulsa Red Castle Gun Club, where each was given a stall and 10 five-round shooting session.

The instruction was led by Don Roberts, who explained that each participant was given the same training as law enforcement. Roberts believes the chances of a mass killing, whether in a school setting or simply out in public, are decreased if a certain number of people in the vicinity are armed.

"It doesn't have to be a well-armed populous. It just has to a be a percentage of the populous. Then, theoretically, there's going to be somebody there who may be able to take a position of advantage and gain control of the situation," he said.

After one training and shooting session, Bentley believes she could defend her home. Defending a classroom, however, is entirely different.

"I think that there's a lot more that goes into mental and physical preparation than just coming to the target range one time. I think there's a psychological understanding that needs to be developed," she said.

In addition to Quinn, Tulsa Public Schools superintendent Keith Ballard has also come out against the notion of teachers and other school staff carrying weapons.

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