01/07/2013 01:55 pm ET

Alabama Teachers Undergo School Shooter Training After Newtown Massacre

More than 100 Jefferson County teachers and administrators in Alabama took part in active school shooter training last week in the latest round of security measures following the Dec. 14 Connecticut school shooting that shook the nation.

The training, a collaboration between Jefferson County Schools and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, featured shooter simulations, in which teachers and administrators took turns with paint pellet-filled weaponry and protective gear. Educators played the roles of both law enforcement officials and teachers, who followed school emergency procedures and lockdown protocol amid chaotic noise, bullets and yelling, designed to simulate the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, reports.

But the simulation wasn't meant to train educators on how to attack or defeat a school shooter, Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian told TIME.

"They were allowed to take on the role of law enforcement so they could understand the need to relay accurate and timely information to first responders," Christian said.

Officials also urged teachers to keep an emergency backpack in their classrooms, carrying items like a school map, first-aid kit, flashlight and paper and tape to black out windows.

"As a witness I learned that you have to be a lot more attentive," high school teacher Beth Martin told WIAT.

The training comes nearly three weeks after the Connecticut shooting that killed 26 people in Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 children, spurring renewed national interest in gun control and school safety. Whereas Alabama's training focuses on unarmed teacher response, hundreds of Utah teachers lined up for concealed weapons training, sponsored by the Utah Shooting Sports Council.

And as lawmakers on the left express staunch support for stricter gun laws, those on the right are starting to show willingness for change.

Still, Republicans in a number of states have announced plans to introduce legislation that would allow or even require school staff to carry guns. Republican state Rep. Tony Cornish, for one, plans to sponsor a bill that allows teachers to carry loaded weapons in classrooms.

One school in Texas does permit concealed carry by teachers, and former Education Secretary Bill Bennett took to "Meet the Press" earlier this month to express his support for arming school staff.

But experts say that bringing weapons onto school grounds would do more harm than good, and teachers have called the proposal "absurd."

"Singular horrible events like this past week make us all upset, but if we look at the data, it doesn't make sense that that's where we need to beef up security in a very expensive way -- not only financially but also at the cost of our children's feeling of security," Kenneth Dodge, director of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University told The Huffington Post last month. "Isn't it more straightforward to just get rid of the guns?"



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