Colorado Springs' largest school district, with nine middle schools and four high schools, will allow its security staff to carry firearms beginning later this year.

The district didn't disclose to the Colorado Springs Gazette exactly how many security staff it employs, but said that about half of them are currently enrolled in a rigorous 40-hour special training program for armed school staff.

The decision to allow security officers to carry firearms was made over the summer, the paper reported.

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"They'll be able to respond immediately to armed threats and be a deterrent to anyone planning an attack," Robert Curran Sr., assistant superintendent and chief information officer for information technology, told the Gazette.

Colorado law allows security officers to carry weapons, but many rural school districts can't afford to hire dedicated security guards. Some staff at smaller schools have taken on the role for a token salary, if only so that they can carry a gun in class.

"If you look around the nation at school shootings, they're over fairly quickly once the first armed officer arrives," Brian Grady, a former police officer and the executive director of security at Academy School District 20, told the Gazette.

"So having the ability to have someone armed on campus makes it a lot safer for the school."

Academy School District arms all of its security guards, he said, and has for years.

"You can't be too safe anymore with our schools and our kids," Grady said.

In December, an armed student entered Arapaho High School in search of a staff member. He shot a fellow student, who later died, and turned the gun on himself when he saw an armed deputy assigned to the campus as a security guard approaching.

Former Arapaho County Sheriff Grayson Robinson praised the deputy's quick reaction, and said the appearance of a uniformed officer likely prevented further casualties.

The incident only took about 80 seconds from the time the shooter entered the building to when he took his own life.

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