Amid a national conversation over whether teachers should be able to carry guns in schools, a teacher in the Washington, D.C., area says she's more than ready to take a firearm into her classroom.
Sierra Collins, an elementary school teacher in Virginia, said she already takes a 9 mm pistol to her school every day. She leaves the weapon locked in a safe in her car but told News4 she wishes she could take it inside with her.
"It's terrifying when you enter a place you can't have it," she said, speaking in her home. "I care about every single one of my kids. I care about all my coworkers. And I would not be able to protect them if something were to happen."
Collins said she grew up around guns. She has taken classes and done target practice, and has several guns at home. She said she takes pride in being able to defend herself and others.
"It is a last resort. It is truly if you feel that your life is threatened," she said, speaking on the condition that News4 not reveal where she works.
While she can't carry a gun into her school now, she said she does usually carry at least one knife.
"Typically, I wear this knife under my clothes. It’s just a simple neck knife on a chain," she said, showing the weapon.
She said she has never had to use the knife, but she takes comfort knowing it's there.
Collins said she thinks allowing some teachers to carry guns in classrooms would have a deterrent effect.
"People aren’t going to walk into a school where they know there’s the possibility of a teacher carrying," she said.
Training should prevent accidental shootings, Collins said. She said she just wants to be able to keep her students safe.
"I would do anything for these kids, and just like so many teachers, I would lay my life down on the line for them," she said. "It’s really important that I’m able to have my gun with me so that I’m able to protect them."
Virginia laws allow guns to be kept in cars on school grounds. However, some school districts do not allow it.