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ALLOWING Toppenish School District employees to carry firearms is a disaster waiting to happen. The Toppenish School Board adopted the policy that would begin in September.

As it stands, 11 school administrators have volunteered to arm themselves and comply with the standards: 16 hours of training, obtaining a concealed-weapons permit and undergoing a background check.

If Toppenish is that concerned, then invest more money in precautions with dramatically fewer possibilities of fatal errors and lethal mistakes.

Hire more armed security guards so each of the district’s eight campuses has a trained person on duty. Install metal detectors. Pass out cans of pepper spray to teachers and staff — remember, that’s how a quick-thinking student disarmed the assailant at the recent Seattle Pacific University shooting that left one dead and another seriously wounded. Bolster the ranks of school counselors.

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Arming amateurs is asking for all of the accidents that come with putting guns in inexperienced hands in crowded quarters. The spectrum of tragedy ranges from guns that are dropped, grabbed or stolen to actually discharging a weapon and striking innocent victims.

An enthusiastic editorial in the Tri-City Herald at least acknowledged a basic concern of local police: identifying who is an attacker and who is an armed school employee. That is the wisdom of professionals who deal with the fog of hazardous confrontations.

Options and alternatives exist, but they involve spending money, and predictably that makes school administrators and board members flinch. No, the better, cheaper path is not to arm well-intended educators.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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