Should our teachers be armed?

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(Source: Vadym Sarakhan via 123RF) (Source: Vadym Sarakhan via 123RF)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Think of all the mass shootings that this country has faced. Think of all the mass shootings that have happened at schools: Columbine, Sandy Hook and now Parkland. We've got the president of the United States saying 'arm the teachers!'

President Trump said during a rally, "If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, it could very well end the attack very quickly."

[RELATED: Trump suggests arming teachers as a solution to increase school safety]

The NRA supports putting guns in the hands of teachers. Governor Doug Ducey also believes arming teachers could save lives. But, if the Governor's School Safety Plan becomes law, teachers would have to undergo annual training.

We met Suzanne Freehauf at the Ben Avery Shooting Range in Phoenix, AZ. She's NRA-certified to teach teachers how to properly shoot a handgun. We asked her what guns she recommends for teachers to carry in the classroom. Freehauf showed us a table full of options.

"This Smith & Wesson 9mm is a great choice. It's a very popular gun, especially for women, because of its size. It seems to fit in a woman's hands very well."

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Schools in Crisis]

We were there as Freehauf was teaching seventh-grade teachers how to shoot. One of the teachers, Cassy McCann, teaches refugee children in Phoenix. She had little experience firing a gun.

Brandon: "Is it safe to say that you would do anything to protect your students?"
McCann: "Yeah, I would. I don't want to have to do anything, but yeah, I would. I have grown children now, so these are my babies."
 
Brandon: "Did you ever think when you became a teacher that you would come to this point where you would actually consider bringing a gun and carrying a gun inside your classroom?"
McCann: "Never. This was never a thought. Our job is to educate and protect students and none of us want to have to possibly look at a student and say 'I have to take your life to save these lives'. If I’m going to be able to shoot and kill someone I need to know beforehand that I’m ready to do it and I’m ready to do it if it's a student."
 
McCann feels pressure with educating kids and also keeping them safe. She wants to make sure that her kids have a safe learning environment. She tells me her number one priority is to make sure that these kids go home safe to their family.
 
McCann's husband, John, is also a teacher. He's also a Vietnam veteran. He knows the gravity of pulling the trigger.
 
Brandon: "John, this is a serious topic. This is serious and a potentially consequential idea about allowing a teacher to carry a gun onto campus."
John McCann: "I've always felt this: The hardest thing in the world to do in my opinion is to set out to shoot someone to actually kill someone."
 
Brandon: "If a gunman armed with an AR-15 comes onto campus and he's able to unload so many bullets in such a short amount of time, do you think you'll be able to stop that shooter?"
John McCann: "Depending on the circumstances I have no doubt in my mind that I could neutralize the shooter."
 
I asked his wife the same question.
 
Brandon: "Do you think, armed with your handgun, that you will be able to take down a guy with an AR-15?"
Cassy McCann: "It's a hard question because I think with the proper training I can, but as a teacher, this is a question we really have to look at and be able to answer."
 
McCann circles back to her top priority: keeping her kids safe: "I want them to feel like my classroom is a safe place. That even if the world outside may not always be safe, that when they walk in my door its safe. It's sad that we've come to this."
 
McCann doesn't want to carry a gun to school. These aren't cowboys and cowgirls who are teachers who are ready to come to school with guns blazing in their holsters. That's not their mentality. That’s not their mentality at all. Their mentality is: how do I keep my kids safe? If, in the worst case scenario, a gunman comes onto my campus and tries to come inside my classroom, what can I do besides hide under my desk? They feel they need to arm themselves.

But there's been a huge movement since Parkland to create more gun restrictions. In fact, the faces of the movement are not adults, but kids who survived the mass shooting. Many students have voiced their opinion saying they absolutely do not want their teachers packing heat.

One student pressed lawmakers at the capitol, "We do not want more SROs. We want more counselors. That's what we need."

We've got both extremes about this topic. We have people saying 'no more guns or fewer guns' and we've got the other side saying 'we need more people with guns to protect people.' Is there a middle ground?

Another high school student had a very definitive answer. "We believe the focus should be on counselors. If we had emotional support, those killers wouldn't have developed in the first case."

So, I asked the teachers how they would explain to parents that they're carrying a gun inside the classroom.
 
Brandon: "What do you say to that parent who says 'I am really concerned about any teacher bringing a gun onto campus. What do you say to them to help alleviate those fears?"
John McCann: "The reason that I have it, if I were to carry one, is to make sure your child comes home at night."

I've covered both sides of this story extensively. In my reporting, I've come to this conclusion: There's one thing you can't debate: these teachers love their kids. These teachers are passionate about teaching. They want to keep their kids safe. They want their classroom to be a safe haven. They feel in order to do that they need to have a gun in the classroom.

As we were wrapping up my interview at the shooting range, Cassy McCann shared this with me: "I just love being part of this community that is my classroom. You know, its taboo now to touch students, to hug, but I can't tell my kids not to hug me. I have 12 and 13 year olds hugging me every day as they come in and go out of my classroom and that's what school should be. Students should love their teachers and teachers should love their students."

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