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2 Washington state lawmakers urge holding special legislative session on school safety after shooting

The Washington Capitol in Olympia (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SEATTLE — Two state lawmakers urged Gov. Jay Inslee Friday to call for a special legislative session to address school safety after the deadly shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.

State Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and state Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, issued separate statements urging the governor to call a special legislative session.

“No law or legislative action will alone change human hearts and altogether stop violence,” Braun said in a news release. “But the Legislature can take steps to reduce the risk of deadly school violence, which often stems from mental illness.

“Earlier this year I proposed and advocated for putting $500 million in state bonding authority before voters to expand mental health services and treatment in communities statewide. Others have proposed limiting access to certain types of guns by individuals under age 21, or creating anonymous tip lines where safety concerns could be reported to the proper officials.

“We can and should build on this year’s bipartisan work led by Sen. O’Ban working with Senate Democrats, which resulted in a workgroup with diverse experiences to develop strategies to identify and intervene against potential perpetrators of mass shootings. While their reports are not due until December, I encourage the group to meet more frequently and share their recommendations by August, which would give the Legislature time to act this summer – before schools reopen this fall.”

Walsh, referring to the Santa Fe High School shooting that left 10 dead, said, “This event has caused a growing number of my constituents—and Washingtonians from outside my district—to contact me, asking what the State can do to discourage future school shootings from happening here in Washington.

“As you know, I’ve long proposed a three-part program for reducing the risk of school shootings … fully fund the state’s School Resource Officer program. This would cost about $250M a year … allow trained and certified school staff members to concealed carry on campus … encourage school districts to include Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) when building new schools—and move away from ‘open campus’ designs.

“The first and second steps above are processes we can put into place very quickly. Therefore, I am asking you to immediately call a special, emergency session of the Washington State legislature to take two actions:

“1) to approve allocation of the money necessary to fully fund the State’s School Resource Officer program—to put a trained and armed security officer in each of public K-12 schools;

“2) to approve legislation allowing public K-12 school staff, who have been properly trained and certified, to concealed carry on campus.

“It’s urgent that we act together—in a non-partisan way—to make our schools safe places for kids to live and learn. Let’s seize this opportunity to act.”

The Governor’s Office offered a thinly veiled ‘no’ Friday night to calling a special session.

“The obstacle to reducing gun violence has not been (having) too few days in legislative session,” the office said. “As Senator Braun says, there’s a legislative work group talking about this and we look forward to reading their report.”