11/25/2014

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Politics

Incoming Washington lawmaker proposes arming teachers

Incoming Washington lawmaker proposes arming teachers

SALMON CREEK, Wash. – An incoming state representative from Camas is considering a proposal to change state law to allow guns in schools.

Republican Liz Pike wants to bring up a bill that would let teachers carry concealed guns in the classroom.

Under Pike's proposal, teachers at schools like Salmon Creek Elementary could volunteer to go through mental evaluations and week-long gun training at their own expense. They would also buy their own guns to bring into their classes and wear on a belt or in a holster – not in a purse or drawer.

Every school district would get to choose if teachers can carry weapons. Pike said it would be confidential and only law enforcement and the superintendent would know which teachers have weapons.

"They're designed to be concealed, and in a perfect situation a student will never see that gun," Pike said.

She posted her idea on her Facebook page, asking for feedback. She said it would be like the federal program for pilots that started after 9/11 where they can volunteer to train and carry.

Pike believes that mentally ill people would then understand that schools are not gun-free zones and they would not want to attack them like the shooter did in Sandy Hook.

"There is a possibility that there will be a teacher protecting those children and there might be somebody (the teacher) shooting back," Pike said. "It's basically a message to the mentally ill people that would do these terrible things to our children in our schools."

But some other state representatives disagree.

"I think we just need to be better prepared to handle the mental health issues that come up," said Rep.-elect Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver. "People who are looking for ways to hurt other people will do that whether there is a gun around or not. So we need to be approaching that from a mental health perspective."

Stonier said she supports the Second Amendment but believes guns in schools would not make kids safer.

"That's not fool proof, and to have guns in a classroom with my children, or anybody's children, when the focus isn't on gun safety and education. And focus is supposed to be on education. That's a problem for me."

She said there's not enough focus on dealing with mental health issues.

Pike said she also supports mental health solutions but said that will take a long time and there's no time to wait.

Pike will start her work in the Legislature Jan. 14. She said at least five other lawmakers in Washington have come up with similar ideas.

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