Carol Biliczky

The Buckeye Firearms Association says it has received an “overwhelming” response, some from Northeast Ohio, to its offer to train school personnel in firearms.

Association President Jim Irvine of Strongsville said about 500 teachers, bus drivers, administrators and janitors statewide have volunteered for 24 slots in its pilot training program to be held in the spring.

The group announced its program last week in the wake of the shootings of 26 children and adults at a school in Newtown, Conn.

But Irvine and other association members had been thinking about offering the training for years, he said.

“The goal is to make schools realize that you’ve got to do more than put a sticker on a door,” said Irvine, a professional pilot with young children of his own. “That’s not security. People, we’re living in denial.”

The National Rifle Association has proposed placing an armed officer at each school nationwide, some of which — especially in urban areas — already have police on duty.

The Utah Shooting Sports Council also recently provided six hours of free gun training to almost 200 teachers in that state.

The Utah program appears to be more modest than the Ohio one is shaping up to be.

Irvine said organizers will select participants from every corner of the state, at every level from kindergarten through high school. The first batch of students to be selected will be those with concealed-carry permits so that trainers don’t have to cover the basics of pulling a trigger, he said.

The training will cover more than firearms and tactics, he said. As the biggest cause of death for shooting victims is bleeding to death, the course will teach treatment of the injured.

“EMTs won’t come into the building until police say its safe,” Irvine said. “You have to have people who can apply pressure bandages and stabilize the patient and stop the clock.”

Eventually, the program could be farmed out statewide to every school employee who is interested, he suggested. He wants to develop a curriculum that the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy can offer to school employees.

In the meantime, the Buckeye Firearms Association will offer three days of free training this March or April at the Tactical Defense Institute in West Union in Adams County.

The association’s foundation will cover the $1,000 per student cost for tuition, ammunition and lodging, Irvine said.

Representatives of local and state teachers’ unions could not be reached for comment.

Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or cbiliczky@thebeaconjournal.com.