State Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, introduced a bill on Thursday that could lead to teachers and administrators carrying concealed guns on school grounds.
House Bill 1788 would allow public school boards and private schools to decide whether they would want to create such policies.
According to the bill’s text, the state has a constitutional duty to provide children with a basic education, and that includes a safe learning environment. Hiring private security officers for schools can be too expensive for some districts, the bill also states.
Under the bill, if school districts or private schools decide to let educators carry guns on school grounds, the following restrictions would apply:
• Only permanent school employees, including teachers and administrators, could participate.
• They would have to bring their own gun and their own ammunition to school.
• They must have a valid concealed pistol license for the gun.
• They must receive training through the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission before bringing the gun to school.
School employees with concealed guns also could bring their guns on school buses. The bill also states that school districts and employees who carry guns could not be held liable for failing to protect others in a crisis.
Nine other legislators, including two Democrats and state Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, have co-sponsored the bill, which has been dubbed the “Safer Schools Act of 2013.”
Pike did not immediately return a call from The Columbian on Thursday. On Friday, she emailed a comment to The Columbian.
Following the mass shooting that took place in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Pike posted on her Facebook page that she was considering a bill that would essentially arm teachers. At that time, she said schools’ gun-free zones make educators and students “sitting ducks” if a shooter enters the school.
State Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, has called Pike’s idea “absolutely the wrong approach” for making schools safer, and teacher union representative Ellen Joslin said they were concerned about whether students could access the guns, whether teachers would be able to use their guns in time to make a difference, and whether an increase of guns could harm a school’s nurturing environment.
Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, said he assumes the bill would be referred to the House Education Committee, and that he doubts the committee’s chair, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, would advance the bill in any way.
“I think it’s just kind of a feel-good bill for Liz,” Moeller said.