Parents, students speak out against idea to arm teachers

Parents, students speak out against idea to arm teachers

VANCOUVER, Wash. – The topic of whether teachers should be armed with guns inside classrooms is being fiercely debated here.

A few weeks ago pro-gun rights advocates spoke before the Vancouver School Board. They want teachers to carry concealed weapons, saying it will make classrooms safer.

"Take down those 'weapons-free' zones signs – those safety zone signs," said a participant at that meeting. "And in their place erect signs that say, 'Warning: These premises protected by armed school personnel.'"

But Tuesday night another group stepped forward concerned about the idea. They are parents and students who wanted to make sure their voices were heard after the other side spoke at the last meeting.

Heidi Yewman is one of those concerned parents. She said she believes having more guns will only make schools more dangerous.

She was a teacher and wears a blue ribbon in honor of Columbine where she graduated 13 years before the shooting. She lost a good teacher and friend of hers.

"There were two armed guards at Columbine, and they shot at the students that went in. They hit them. It didn't work, and 15 people later, 15 people are dead," she said.

And she's a parent concerned about her kids' safety if guns are allowed in the classroom.

"I do worry about it a lot," she said. "I talk to my son about it, and he tells me about these drills that they have to go through where they hide under desks and they're in these situations where they have to practice these fearful situations."

She knows that Washington lawmaker Liz Pike is looking into the idea of teachers carrying concealed weapons in the classroom.

In Ridgefield armed guards are now on campus but that's an exception to the rule because they're contracted.

In order for school personnel to carry on campus, the law would have to change. And Yewman wants the school board to know her son's safety is top priority.

"It really makes me sad, because this isn't the world I want him living in," she said.

After the meeting, a gun rights advocate said teachers could act in a crucial role as first responders.

"There's about 1 out of 20 adults in the state of Washington that have a concealed carry permit and are allowed to carry virtually anywhere in the state except for in a school," said Tracy Wilson. "Many of these are school teachers and what they have to do is disarm themselves when they arrive to work to go to school. Well, these teachers could also be our first line of defense."

He's hoping legislators change the law. Vancouver school board members say they can't do anything because it would require a change in law.