An inside look at "School Sentinels" weapons training - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

An inside look at "School Sentinels" weapons training

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The South Dakota House passed a bill that would allow teachers or other school staff members to carry a gun inside the classroom. 

The bill passed 47 to 27 in the House Tuesday and is now headed to the Senate to Consider. 

The bill passed with an amendment that calls for any school sentinel to complete the firearm training program from the police academy at the Mickelson Criminal Justice Center, essentially giving teachers or other educators the same training as South Dakota law enforcement. 

The state's firearm training program for law enforcement officers teaches even those with no prior experience with guns how to properly use a firearm. 

"They're going into this basically saying, we're going to teach you how to shoot these different types of weapons and basically assume you don't have any experience," said Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens. 

The program teaches the basics of how to put a gun together, clean and maintain it and how to handle it.

"Basically in holding the gun, starting from their, holding it, how you aim the gun, getting your site picture down, and then getting to the point where you're going to shoot it," said Clemens. 

"This is critical, gun handling skills are very important and you want to make sure that somebody has top level training and is trained to the level if not exceeding the level of current law enforcement," said Representative Scott Craig, a primary sponsor of House Bill 1087.  

The training course not only teaches people how to use a gun, it also teaches when it's necessary to use deadly force. 

"From a law enforcement side, when you're justified to start and when you can and when you can't," said Clemens. 

In the classroom, students go over Court Cases and State and Federal laws that dictate when an officer or school sentinel would be able to use their weapon and how to use it if a situation arises. 

"You can train and train all you want but until you get into a situation you really never know how you're going to react," said Clemens. 

The goal of the law enforcement firearm program is to make the training second nature under any circumstance. 

"We're trying to get people when they hit that stressful situation they can fall back on that training and they'll be successful in the outcome," said Clemens. 

Representative Craig says it's important to remember that this training will not be mandatory for all teachers.  Only schools and teachers that choose to implement the program—should the bill pass in the Senate—will be required to undergo this training.

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