Why this Utah teacher says she supports arming teachers with guns in schools

"I'm just a teacher who wants to protect her students."

— -- Kasey Hansen did not grow up with guns around the house, never mind owning one.

By 2012, she was a new teacher and had maybe only fired a gun twice in her entire life. That all changed after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“It broke my heart to think that all the teachers could do was huddle their kids in a corner, stand in front of them and pray that nothing was going to come through that classroom door,” Hansen told ABC News’ “Nightline.”

“I have different holsters that go on different parts. And so depending on my outfit is where the gun goes,” Hansen said.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 42 percent of people surveyed say the Parkland shooting could have been prevented if teachers carried guns.

But 58 percent of those polled said stricter gun laws could have stopped the killings.

Melissa Falkowski, who teaches newspaper, English and creative writing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, told ABC News that the shooting has left her feeling “failed by society, failed by the state, failed by Congress.”

“Because they’ve just, on this particular issue, have been taken no action in recent years, and so I just feel like what happened to us was totally preventable,” she said.

Falkowski said she and 19 of her students hid in a closet in her classroom during the Feb. 14 shooting. She called the notion of training teachers on how to use weapons and arming them in schools as a way to combat school shooters was “absurd.”

“And in that moment,” Falkowski continued, “the teachers are shielding the students, throwing themselves on top of the kids, and trying to comfort for them and put them in a place where they can be safe and out of his view and out of his way, and so they don’t have time to react to ‘Oh my gosh, let me go into this locked cabinet and get a gun,’ and so I don’t think in this scenario that it would have helped.”

"We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharpshooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15," Weingarten said in a statement released by the AFT.

"How would arming teachers even work? Would kindergarten teachers be carrying guns in holsters? Is every classroom now going to have a gun closet? Will it be locked? When you have seconds to act when you hear the code for an active shooter, is a teacher supposed to use those seconds getting her gun instead of getting her students to safety?" she said in the statement. "Anyone who pushes arming teachers doesn’t understand teachers and doesn’t understand our schools. Adding more guns to schools may create an illusion of safety, but in reality it would make our classrooms less safe."

Kasey Hansen said she believes teachers should have the ability to defend their students.

“I'm just a teacher who wants to protect her students. I'm not going to roam the halls if I hear lockdown is occurring and someone's in the building. I'm not going to go looking for him,” Hansen said. “That's not my job. My job is to lock the classroom. Turn off all the lights. Get the kids in the corner and be ready.”

While some might argue that people in schools during a shooting should wait for police, Hansen said that might take too long.

“How long is it going to take for the police to get there? And how long is it going to take for them to roam the halls? My school is a big school,” Hansen said. “The gunman could be anywhere. He could be in my room clear across campus and it's going to take a while for the police to figure out.”

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Hansen said it was her mom who encouraged her to take a concealed carry class.

“I wasn't planning on buying a gun. It was just information. And I learned about gun safety. I learned about the gun laws. I learned about protection. It was educational,” Hansen said. “It got me thinking, ‘What would I do if a shooting at my school happened?’”

Hansen said she doesn’t tell her students when she is carrying her gun and might not always have it on her. She also believes people shouldn’t need to know whether or not she is carrying her gun.

“It's my personal choice, and it's my right to decide that. And so why tell anyone?” she said. “I almost feel like I would be a target if I announce to my boss, if I announce to my students, if I announce to my parents, ‘Hey guess what? Today I'm wearing a gun. Just FYI.’”

Hansen said she also likes the idea of retired military being employed by schools for security.

“I wish more schools would implement it,” she said. “I don't think the protection and the security should be on teachers.”

For those hesitant about using guns, Hansen said practice and education are key.

“And if you know how to handle it, if you know what you're doing, and if you start to practice your mindset and start to visualize, ‘OK, where would I go in my school? Where would I be? How would I protect my students?’” Hansen said. “If you start that visualization and that thought process, it's really not as scary as you might think.”

ABC News' Meghan Keneally contributed to this story.

Jay-Sheree Allen, MD, a resident in the ABC News Medical Unit, contributed to this story.

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