Whitefish Teen Pushes Initiative to Allow Teachers to Carry Guns

Chet Billi is working with the Montana Shooting Sports Association to put proposal on the 2016 ballot

By Justin Franz

A 17-year-old from Whitefish is pushing for a ballot initiative that would allow teachers with a concealed weapons permit to carry a weapon inside a school.

Chet Billi, a junior at Whitefish High School, said he believes more guns would make them safer places and could prevent a school shooting. Billi said he believes tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in 2012 could have been prevented had a staff member been armed.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Billi said. “A gun in the hands of a responsible person is a good thing.”

Billi is a longtime gun enthusiast and said he came up with the idea of a citizen’s ballot initiative just a few months ago. Although Billi submitted the proposal with the Secretary of State earlier this month, he has since withdrawn it and is working on an updated version with Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association. Marbut said his group will support Billi’s effort and added that it is exciting to see young people getting involved with the political process.

Before the initiative can get on the 2016 ballot, Billi must gather more than 24,000 signatures from 5 percent of registered voters in the state. Marbut said it will be a tough process, but he believes Billi is up for it. Interestingly, Billi himself won’t be able to sign the petition until he turns 18 in September.