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Aspen school board candidate recommends training school staff in gun safety, opponents criticize idea | #schoolsaftey


Aspen School District (ASD) Board of Education candidates have different opinions on how to increase school safety.

As part of a forum on Oct. 10, the candidates discussed the false shooting threats in February and March that resulted in large law enforcement responses and a district-wide lockdown.

Sally Goulet, one of the candidates, recommended the district participate in a statewide program called FASTER Colorado, which supports arming teachers, staff, and school administrators by offering firearm and emergency response training.

“I’m not suggesting that all teachers are carrying weapons, but if there is a teacher who feels that they are well-trained in gun safety, they could go through this training, and that just adds one more protection on campus,” Goulet said. “It just takes one impulse, one bad choice, and one devastated person to make a disastrous impact on many lives.”

In interviews after the forum, the other three candidates — Cassie Harrelson, Sarah Daniels, and incumbent Katy Frisch — have all said they oppose Goulet’s suggestion.

In a phone call with Aspen Public Radio on Monday, Daniels said school resource officers should be the only people carrying weapons at the school district.

“Increasing weapons in schools is not a good idea,” Daniels said. “The more weapons there are, the more likelihood there could be an accident — the more likelihood that there can be disastrous consequences.”

Frisch said training and arming teachers with firearms is a “terrible idea,” and she would not support it at the board level.

“You don’t solve safety problems by adding more guns to the equation in an environment with small children to large children,” Frisch said. “We do not need to have kindergarten teachers with guns. It is absurd to me to even suggest it.”

Harrelson said she was an “absolute no” on arming educators.

Goulet clarified in an interview that she’d like to hear feedback on the idea from teachers and the community at large.

All four candidates agree with the Pitkin County sheriff’s decision to hire another school resource officer for the district.

They also applauded the current board’s recent safety improvements, which include replacing all outward facing doors with models that lock automatically and updating emergency communication software.

According to the National Institute of Health, research on the safety benefits of arming teachers is limited, and comes with many caveats. However, a 2018 report from the agency says increased gun access and gun possession are not associated with increased safety, and that “increasing the presence of guns in the hands of civilians in schools, no matter how well intentioned, may backfire.”

See Aspen Public Radio’s Voter Guide for more information on the Nov. 7 election.





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