State Senator proposes program that would train teachers to be armed in shooter situations
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A republican state senator says he's getting death threats for proposing a program that trains teachers to be armed and able to respond in active shooter situations. The state teachers union is firmly against the idea.
Sen. Phil Fortunato, (R-Auburn), sponsor of SB 6622, said he is being misunderstood. "It does not arm teachers. It does not put guns in schools. What it does do is establish a training program."
Fortunato finally introduced the bill he's talking about for the last 10 days in response to the Florida school shooting where none of the teachers was armed.
"I'm getting death threats and all that stuff for what?" said Fortunato. "Proposing that we have a training program to respond to an active shooter?"
His bill would have the state pay districts to have teachers and staff get trained in firearms and active shooters such as at the state police training center, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.
Or use a private training consultant like John Ladines who says police can't get to schools quick enough.
"That shooting in Florida was over within 3-4 minutes and so it's logical to see we have something in place where we can have an immediate response inside that school."
Ladines is the trainer for the Toppenish school district which now has 19 administrators fully armed in all the schools. The superintendent said had the principal at Sandy Hook been armed, the outcome could have been different.
"She went toward him. If she would have had a pistol or even a rifle maybe all of those kids and adults wouldn't have died. We don't know that. But at least she would have had a chance," John Cerna said.
"That's a bad idea," said teacher Justin Fox-Bailey. He said the state's largest teachers union. Washington Education Association is firmly against the bill. "Educators are really clear. They don't want more guns in school. They want more resources to serve their kids."
"They want to have your kindergarten student on their lap while learning the alphabet and they can't do that if there's a gun on their hip," Rep. Gerry Pollet, (D-Seattle), said.
Governor Inslee has made it clear that he believes arming teachers is not the solution.
Republicans are quick to point out there are actually two prongs to this legislation. One deals with guns. One has to do with mental health (SB 6618). T
"We need to make sure our schools, our students have access to mental health counselor when they're having difficulty and we can help them to get passed that," the bill's sponser Sen. Barbara Bailey said.