Should teachers be allowed to carry guns at school? One lawmaker says yes

Gun in a man's hands

State Senator Phil Fortunato (R-31st District) is preparing to unveil a bill that would give Washington teachers the option of carrying guns on school grounds.

Fortunato says the goal of the ‘Student Safety and Protection Act‘ is to make sure school districts have the funding to train teachers or staffers to carry a gun and “respond to an active shooter threat.”  Teachers would not be required to go through the training or purchase a gun.

“We protect our banks, politicians, and celebrities with guns, but we put up a ‘gun free zone’ sign on school grounds to ‘protect’ our students,” Fortunato says, in a statement on his website.  He argues that gun restrictions, age limits, and enhanced background checks are not enough to prevent school shootings.

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, says there’s no proof that arming teachers will prevent school shootings either.

“There’s no evidence that we can find anywhere in the literature that says arming teachers is an effective deterrent, or an effective intervention.”

He added, “The idea that a kindergarten teacher or a biology teacher is going to be trained enough to actually take a shot at their own children is preposterous.”

Instead, Reykdal says school districts are asking for help spotting threats – and taking action before tragedy strikes.  He says when school officials see a student who may be struggling, it can be difficult to make sure they get the necessary help.

“Very rarely, but some of these students are identified as needing a significant intervention, and schools can only take that so far.  Generally, that needs somebody in the community to help them; a mental health coordinating agency.” Reykdal explained. “That’s when that hand-off can be a little bit treacherous.”

 

Even if state lawmakers voted to give teachers the option of carrying guns, it’s far from certain that Governor Jay Inslee would sign the proposal into law.  He told President Donald Trump on Monday that teachers should not be asked to carry guns.

“I’ve listened to first grade teachers that don’t want to be pistol-packing first-grade teachers. I’ve listened to law enforcement who’ve said they don’t want to have to train teachers as law enforcement agents,” said Inslee. “Educators should educate, and they should not be foisted upon this responsibility of packing heat.”

Inslee later told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that decisions on arming teachers should be left up to states, adding: “I think that should be left up to the teachers, by and large, because they’re the ones that are going to be in this situation…you can’t implement a policy like this if five million teachers are telling you it’s a really bad idea.”