LAKE WORTH, Fla. - In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting tragedy and talk of the possible tightening of gun laws, more Palm Beach County teachers are signing up to potentially 'pack heat."
On Wednesday night, a number of local teachers picked up a weapon for the first time. At the Palm Beach Shooting Center in Lake Worth, those educators were doing it for free.
"What better time than when they are offering it to teachers," said 'Michelle,' a Palm Beach County elementary school teacher who did not want to reveal her full name. She said she was ready to pull the trigger for the very first time.
"I don't feel like I'm in any threat or any danger, but it just seems like I think everyone should know how to do," she said.
'Michelle' is not alone. Joe Rice is one of the managers at the Palm Beach Shooting Center, which is offering concealed weapons classes - usually $75 - for free to teachers who flash their school I.D. cards.
"The last three days the phone has been ringing off the hook," said Rice. He says over the past several days, dozens of teachers have expressed interest in signing up to shoot. "Maybe having that permit is going to be a bit of a comfort zone," he said. "Maybe it feels a bit better to have it at least in their own life."
Florida law still prohibits teachers and others from carrying a gun onto school grounds. But in the wake of the Newtown school shooting still fresh in many minds - and with talks of potentially tighter gun laws in the future - these people are preparing to arm themselves now.
"Does weigh heavy on my thoughts and mind so might as well go ahead and do it," said 'Carol', another local elementary school teacher who declined to give her full name.
Four of the 16 people in the beginner's class were teachers.
"I'm not doing this because I'm a teacher. I'm just doing this for the sake of myself," she said.
Managers at the range say they will keep the promotion going as long as their is adequate demand. They are also considering offering a 'teacher only' course in the next few weeks.