As many of you know, the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., has led to a major discussion on the future of school safety and armed weapons in our nation. While some groups such as the NRA and Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio feel that armed school administrators and volunteer guards will help keep America's youth safe, others including President Barack Obama have begun to push for new legislation banning assault rifles and high capacity clips.
And now Washington could be on the forefront of this issue if Liz Pike's proposed state law is passed in Olympia when a new legislative session opens this coming month.
According to KATU News Pike, R-Camas, the newly elected state representative for southern Washington's District 18, is planning to create a new program that would allow teachers to volunteer to carry weapons at school. The proposal, which is based off of the Federal Air Marshal Service Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program that allows pilots on commercial aircraft to voluntarily carry guns, would have teachers bring guns into classrooms and wear them on a belt or a holster.
For Pike, the original reason for creating this proposal is that it would ensure safety to students, faculty, and staff in schools while creating a new impression that schools are not 'gun-free' zones.
As Pike told KATU News:
"There is a possibility that there will be a teacher protecting those children and there might be somebody (the teacher) shooting back," Pike said. "It's basically a message to the mentally ill people that would do these terrible things to our children in our schools."
The original proposal by Pike was released in a December 22 Facebook post, in which she asked for people to comment on their opinion towards her idea. The post received 87 comments expressing a wide range of opinions. However, in her most recent Facebook post on December 26, Pike noted that from the "about 20" people who commented, 13 thought there was merit to the idea while 6 did not.
If Pike's idea were to be voted into law, each school district would be able to choose if teachers carried weapons. Those teachers who did decide to carry weapons would go through mental evaluations and a week-long gun-training program, all at their own expense. Also the teachers who had guns would be kept confidential, with only the superintendent and law enforcement knowing the individuals with weapons.
Pike, who according to her election website is a member of the NRA, has stated that at least five other lawmakers in Washington have created similar legislation. On top of this, KATU News reported that state lawmakers in Ohio, Arizona, and Utah have created similar legislation proposals for teachers to carry guns in schools.
The Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program that Pike's proposed legislation is based off of was originally signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003 in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. As noted in a CNN.com article on the program, the volunteer armed pilots, who far exceed the number of federal air marshals, are a very cost effective way to protect the public from possible terrorist attacks. The article states that the federal government spends about $15 per flight on an armed pilot as opposed to $3,000 per flight for a federal air marshal.
Pike is currently running her Pike Advertising Agency and serving as Political Affairs Director for the Building Industry Association in Clark County. Her most recent government role was being an elected member of the Camas City Council, a position she held from 2003 to 2007.
Pike will be sworn in on January 14, 2013; at which time she plans to present her proposal to the new legislation.