• Washington lawmakers propose voluntary firearms training for teachers

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    OLYMPIA, Wash. - There's a new push to have the state pay for teachers and other school district employees who volunteer to be armed. Auburn Republican Sen. Phil Fortunato says it would not require teachers to be armed, but it would pay to properly train those who want to carry firearms in school.

    Administrators in the rural Toppenish school district are already quietly carrying firearms in school, after undergoing extensive training.

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    ​At the state Capitol today, the superintendent remembered how a principal had to confront the Sandy Hook killer, unarmed.

    “She went toward him. If she would have had a pistol or even a rifle maybe all those kids and adults would be alive today,” said Toppenish superintendent John Cerna.

    Toppenish is a model for Fortunato. He wants the state to pay for training civilians to provide armed protection for schools.

    “We are currently protected by armed security people in this building and we protect our children, the most precious thing we have with a sign that says Gun Free Zone,” Fortunato said at a news conference at the state Capitol.

    “I think it's a terrible idea,” said Redmond Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra. “I’m a parent of kids who go to a public school system. I'm a PTSA member. I have lots of friends who are teachers. I don't know anyone who's involved in the schools who think this is a good idea.”

    In Georgia today, an armed teacher fired a shot in an empty classroom. No one was hurt.

    Fortunato responded, “My question, too, is an active shooter comes into the classroom right now, what are you going to do? Are we going to not employ this program because somebody in Georgia decided to have episode in a classroom?"

    Oak Harbor Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey has separate legislation to require mental health professionals in every school.

    “It's the priority, we need to make sure that our students have access to a mental health counselor.”

    With Democrats in the Senate majority, it’s not clear how far their legislation will get.

     

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