Legislators listen to local interests

Ann Rivers and Liz Pike hold town hall meeting in Camas Library

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Sen. Ann Rivers, (R-La Center) and incoming Rep. Liz Pike, (R-Camas) listen to constituents' concerns Saturday, at the Camas Public Library. More than 75 people attended the 18th District town hall meeting. Topics included immigration, coal trains, guns in schools and light rail. The state legislative session is scheduled to begin Monday.

Guns in schools were among the topics discussed in an 18th District town hall meeting with Sen. Ann Rivers, (R-La Center) and incoming Rep. Liz Pike, (R-Camas).

During the meeting Saturday at the Camas Public Library, Pike said she has heard from teachers who like her proposal to allow them to carry guns in classrooms.

Chuck Miller, of Camas, said children need to be protected in schools.

“In Israel, teachers are heavily armed,” he said. “In Utah, teachers are armed. Concealed weapons are needed to protect our kids.”

Pike said she wants to get a broader community discussion going, regarding the issue of allowing teachers to carry guns.

“One important component that seems to have gotten lost in this discussion is that we need to shore up our mental health programs in Washington State,” she said.The discussion could include adding school resource officers and arming teachers “who are overqualified to do so,” Pike said.Tim Howell, husband of a kindergarten teacher, encouraged Pike to “continue that fight,” to allow teachers to carry guns.

“It could be a deterrent,” he said.

Rivers, a concealed gun permit holder and former teacher, said she does not have a problem with Pike’s proposal.

“She is starting a discussion that needed to happen a long time ago,” Rivers said.

“I support what Pike is doing — include as many stakeholders as possible [in the discussion],” she added.

John Ley, a commercial airlines pilot from Camas, wondered if there should be gun training for teachers similar to a program offered to pilots.

The training that Ley went through involved a screening process and voluntarily using vacation time to train in New Mexico.

“Children are our most precious commodity,” Ley said.

Pike said the pilots program is already vetted on the federal level.

“I want to hear all ideas, to come up with the best plan,” she said.

Pike said she is not an advocate for having a gun in every classroom.

Other town hall topics included coal trains, immigration, light rail, marijuana, all-day kindergarten, seat belts on school busses, and Bonneville Power Administration towers potentially affecting local property values.

The state legislative session is scheduled to begin Monday. Pike and Rivers said they plan to hold additional town hall meetings this year.