Legislators unveil proposed school safety bills

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Protecting students is Alissa Parker's mission and, for her, it’s personal.

Her daughter, Emilie Parker, died in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“What I couldn't get out of my mind was all the things that we could've done better. It wasn't that our school failed. It's what we were given and the things that prepared us weren't enough,” she said.

Parker now lives in western Washington with her husband and two children. She said she wants long-term solutions for school safety.

"What I hope to do is share the lessons that we learned through my experience at Sandy Hook. and be able to learn and grow from that so we can move forward,” said Parker.

Parker joined Democratic legislators Tuesday to unveil a handful of new bills. The legislation focuses on suicide prevention, school resource officer training and mental health.

Rep. Laurie Dolan and Sen. Lisa Wellman hope to open regional safety centers to provide training, support and coordination to teachers and students.

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"You'll notice, in the title, it says non-weapons. That was purposeful. We believe that guns do not belong in schools. I believe guns do not make schools safer,” said Dolan.

Republican Sen. Phil Fortunato, however, strongly disagrees and wants school staff armed.

"I'm a little concerned that they purposefully excluded firearms as something that was not even under consideration,” he said.

Fortunato plans to introduce a bill that would allow trained staff members to carry guns.

It's a measure the Toppenish School District in Central Washington started in response to the Sandy Hook shooting.

Last year, 19 trained administrators carried concealed guns.

Fortunato believes that's the best way to stop another school shooting from taking students' lives.

"The reason you want armed people on staff is to be able to respond in one minute to minimize that,” he said.

In Toppenish, those who carry guns undergo 40 hours of training to get certified and must train twice a month.

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