• Opinions split on arming teachers, ending school 'gun free zones'

    By: Deborah Horne

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - As school was letting out for the day, a mother stood outside Totem Middle School in Kent, flanked by her two children who are students at the school. Twelve-year-old Vivian Pina Orozco is a seventh-grader.

    Her 13-year-old brother, Leo, is in sixth grade.

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    ​"Do you worry about your kids in school?" she was asked.

    "All the time," she said. "After what happened in Florida and too many states, of course I worry about my kids. And not just my kids, every single kid in this school."

    She says arming teachers as President Trump is suggesting might make this a safer place for her children to learn.

    "In my opinion, at some point, I want they (teachers) have guns," she said, "because they (are) going to protect the kids."

    "Ah, I don't think that is such a good idea," said Paul Chan. He, too has a child at Totem Middle School. He says he usually supports the president, but not this time.

    "Yeah to arm teachers, I don't think it's going to work," Chan said.

    KIRO 7 asked why not?

    "Well teachers should be focused on educating the kids, not safety, not carrying guns," he said.

    Public schools in Washington state have been largely gun-free since Congress passed the Gun Free Schools Act in 1994. The law says any state that receives federal money for schools must also have a state law that makes it illegal to possess a gun on school property and a punishment for those who violate it.

    The president believes the time has come to change that law, too.

    "When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones," Trump said. "It just puts our students in far more danger."

    "We all know that gun free zones in that regard don't work," said Jim Fuda. "It just tells people there's nobody on that campus that's armed."

    Fuda was a King County sheriff's deputy for more than 30 years. He agrees with the president that gun-free zones give a false sense of security but he doesn't think arming teachers is the answer.

    "How do you vet these people?" he asked. "How do you train them? How do you keep them qualified? And the chaos that goes along with an active shooter, where you've got kids running around, screaming."

    "And there isn't any research to show that having more guns in our school is going to make our kids any safer," said Shannon McCann.

    McCann is on leave from her job as a special education teacher and is now union president of the Federal Way Education Association. She says the argument about who should be armed in a school misses the point.

    "Quite frankly the conversation about giving teachers guns feels like a very drastic distraction from what the message that the students in Florida are trying to tell us," she said.

    "What message is it then that they're trying to tell us, in your view?" she was asked.

    "Safe schools now," said McCann. "Safe schools now means not more guns."

    Moreover, Jim Fuda says the emphasis should be on preventing school shootings. For example, students could be provided with an app where they can anonymously alert school administrators when they are concerned about a classmate.

    All of it is designed to keep schools and, more importantly, the children in those schools, safe.

     

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