ST. HELENS, Ore. – Employees in Oregon’s St. Helens school district can now carry concealed weapons to school after the school board voted last week to lift a ban.
“I have my kids in there. If there was a chance that something was to happen, and there’s a chance that a teacher might be able to protect them, I’m fine with that,” school board member Kellie Smith told ABC.
The decision to allow teachers and staff to carry weapons was approved by the board in a 4-1 vote and was less controversial than discussions to bring back the district middle school’s sports program, board chairman Marshall Porter told the news site.
“The current law in Oregon allows for anybody to concealed carry on school grounds,” he said. “To exclude our staff seems like they’re being punished. They should have a right to protect themselves if they so chose.”
That message seems even more poignant now, after two teachers in different states were murdered last week, allegedly by middle school students. At least one of the killings involved a gun.
It seems likely that at least one of those incidents, and others like it across the nation in recent years, would have turned out differently if the teachers themselves, or nearby colleagues, had been in possession of firearms.
Porter told ABC he believes teachers who decide to carry a gun to school will take their responsibility seriously.
“If (staff members) were faced with a horrific choice, if they had to defend themselves against a kid – which has been the thing – I think it would be a hard decision for them, one that they would educate themselves on,” Porter said.
“I do believe we’re talking about educators, people who have the best interest of the children in mind.”
Porter told the news site he’s received support from the community for the decision to allow teachers to carry guns. So far, only one parent has complained, he said.
“I’ve had more parents email me saying that they approve of our decision than not,” Porter said.
By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org