Bill would reimburse districts, set standards for arming teachers

A group of Republican senators is backing a bill to reimburse districts who train their teachers in firearms while also establishing training guidelines.

While Governor Jay Inslee doesn’t like the idea of arming teachers, school districts in Washington are doing it.

Four districts, all on the Eastside of the state, have teachers or administrators approved to carry firearms on campus, according to Jon Ladines, founder of Force Dynamics, the company that trained the educators.

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A group of Republican senators is backing a bill to reimburse districts who train their teachers while also establishing training guidelines.

The training would be similar to the Force Dynamics training administrators in Toppenish went through.

Since 2014, 19 Toppenish administrators have been allowed to carry concealed weapons on that district’s campuses.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, said he’s received death threats from people who think his bill would provide guns to teachers.

While he thinks arming teachers would save lives, Fortunato said his bill only establishes training standards, so teachers who want to be armed receive the proper training with state funding.

He said he’s had phone calls from teachers who want to carry weapons.

Fortunato said the actions of some teachers in school shootings might have had different results if they had guns.

“Unfortunately we’re seeing it in caskets. We should be seeing it with them getting medals,” said Fortunato.

Brady Olson, a social studies teacher from North Thurston High School in Lacey, said the idea of arming teachers terrifies him. In 2015 Olson tackled a student who fired two shots from a .357 Magnum in the school’s commons area, surrounded by students. No one was injured.

Olson, an Army veteran and concealed weapons permit holder, is glad he didn’t have a gun that day.

“I’m looking at 700 terrified faces,” remembered Olson, who fears if he had a gun, someone else might have been hurt.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to injure another student while trying to defend that very student,” said Olson.

Related: Seattle School Board: Educators need 'pencils and books,' not guns