McGowan congratulated the school and police for their quick responses during the incident.
He said Atlantis Beach, like all schools in the state, was prepared for the situation and conducted drills twice a year, but it was not something he wanted to see in WA.
“This was extraordinary stuff, the sort of thing you see occurring in the deep south of America that you don’t expect to occur in Western Australia, and it shouldn’t occur in Western Australia,” he said.
Gun reform in government’s sights
McGowan said the government would move as quickly as possible to reform gun laws in the state to prevent future incidents, including reducing the number of guns in the state and bolstering storage requirements.
He said while he wanted to avoid commenting directly on the incident, gun owners needed to ensure their weapons were stored safely and correctly.
“Whether it’s kids or your own children or anyone else, they should not be able to get access to any firearms,” he said.
“But in any event, we’re going to have a major rewrite of the gun laws of the state.”
The premier’s pledge to get tough on guns echoed Police Minister Paul Papalia, who told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday night there were still too many licensed firearms in WA.
Papalia promised reforms to the Firearms Act after reflecting on a shooting at a school in Perth’s northern suburbs on Wednesday.
“There are 360,000 or so licensed firearms in Western Australia. That is too many. They are too easily accessed,” he said.
Papalia said the act was being “completely rewritten” as the current laws did not elevate public safety.
“The question to ask with respect to today’s incident is: why do the current laws allow it? They did. The current laws allow for the proliferation of licensed firearms,” he said.
“In the last 13 years, there has been a 60 per cent growth in licensed firearms in Western Australia with no justification such as the demand for vermin eradication or for participation in competitive shooting. Around 60 per cent of the firearms are in the city.”
Students, teachers, police praised for quick action in face of terror
After Wednesday’s incident, Nine News Perth spoke to students who had been locked down for hours after hearing the gunshots.
“They had the curtains over the windows and we couldn’t see, but they didn’t block off the door so we could see all the police coming and the ambulance,” one girl said.
Another girl said she heard a “big bang” before her teacher told them to hide under their desks. Another student said they hid in a storage room.
WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch praised teachers and students at the school, revealing a 12-year-old boy was among those who called triple zero to alert police.
In a statement, Atlantis Beach Baptist College board chair Mike Smith said the school would remain closed on Thursday and reopen on Friday under a modified teaching program with support staff and counselling services on site.
The college will reopen in full capacity on Monday.
“The College Board would like to thank the staff, administration team and the Western Australian Police for the way in which this incident was managed,” Smith said.
Former WA police commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said he recalled incidents at Perth schools where students had brought knives on campus but never a gun.
He said the job of police right now was to understand how such an incident could have occurred.
“When you see something like that obviously it’s quite shocking and disturbing to hear that that’s happened in a public school, in a school in Perth, but I think once you get over the initial shock you need to work out what the hell has gone on there and how you can do things about preventing this from occurring again,” he said.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.