The Pakistani Taliban's attack, which was one of the deadliest in the nation's history, elicited a strong response from teachers, who are undergoing a two-day training program with police to learn how to fire weapons so they can defend against a similar incident, the Associated Press reported.
As the AP reported:
Mushtuq Ghani, the higher education minister in the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial government based in Peshawar, says its Cabinet supports the arming of teachers as a logical measure given the reality that the region's 65,000 police are stretched too thin to provide a first line of defense to nearly 50,000 schools. Terrorists need to know that schools aren't defenseless, and armed teachers could potentially hold off gunmen and buy time for police reinforcements to arrive, he said. Teachers would need to provide their own legally licensed firearms, which many already possess to defend their homes.
"We're at war," he said.
The Taliban attacked the Army Public School, which educated many of the children of military leaders. The classes train teachers on marksmanship and loading and unloading the weapons.
Here's what some of the teachers had to say about the training, according to the AP:
* Frontier College for Women teacher Tabinda, 37: "Whoever kills innocents, God willing I will shoot them."
When she fired her first shot at a paper target, Tabinda said her police instructor was impressed that she hit the bull's-eye, depicting the chest of a human target. Tabinda said she was visualizing the Taliban killers behind December's school slaughter as she fired.
"I hit them right in their hearts," she said.
* "I carry my weapon, but I always keep it hidden like this," said Meenadar Khan, a teacher at Government High School in Peshawar. As the AP reported, he "lifted his shirt to reveal the holstered weapon beneath, a Pakistani-made semi-automatic with a seven-bullet clip."
* Muzammal Khan, provincial president of the All Teachers Association in Peshawar, said teachers should not carry firearms: "Pens belong in our hands, not guns."
* Malik Khalid, president of the association that represents several thousand teachers, said his members voted against the program.
Tom Namako is the deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tom Namako at email@example.com.
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