New bill proposes allowing Wash. teachers to carry concealed weapons

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by HONORA SWANSON & KREM.com

NWCN.com

Posted on February 12, 2013 at 8:26 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A controversial idea is swirling around the House in Olympia.

A recently introduced bill, co-sponsored by 4th District Representative Matt Shea of Spokane Valley, could allow teachers to carry guns at schools.

If passed, school districts and private schools would have the choice to allow teachers and staff to carry concealed weapons on campus.

Parents and communities have voiced concern in recent months after violent attacks on young students and threats to campuses. This includes an event just last week, in which two Fort Colville Elementary students brought a gun and knife to school.

The proposed bill is something Spokane Public School Board’s president may consider.

“What’s the cost compared to the extra amount of benefit? Does the policy give you a false sense of security? Perhaps. And does the measure raise other dangers in and of itself?” President Bob Douthitt questioned, while discussing the matters the board would have to consider. “My initial reaction would be if you put weapons in schools, you have problems in all three of those parameters, but it’s worth looking into.”

The bill’s been dubbed “The Safer Schools Act of 2013.” It says staff would be required to get training, a license, keep local law enforcement in the loop and keep the firearms concealed. Districts could pose their own extended regulations.

“I wouldn’t feel that safe,” fifth grader Xzandre Jean-Francois said. “You don’t know if someone could pretend to get a job as a teacher and then do something bad.”

“I think that teachers should be prepared just in case of an emergency,” sixth grader Jessica Orchard said.

Douthitt says Spokane Public Schools want to figure out the best way to protect its students. The district is in the middle of a comprehensive school safety review. The findings could be released next month.

The bill is still in its early stages. It still needs a committee hearing before heading to the House floor.

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