A long standing gun ban in Oregon’s St. Helen school district has been reversed. Previously, school staff members were forbidden to carry firearms on campus, even though it was legal for the parents to carry. So, after a review, board members voted in favor of lifting the ban. The ban acts in contrast to other school districts across the country, which ban guns on campus, for everyone, especially teachers. In New York, the SAFE Act makes it a felony for anyone to possess a firearm on campus, including teachers. The final vote by the board members was 4-1. It will affect 7 schools in total: two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and three alternative schools.
The decision, which took place last Tuesday, makes perfect sense to the St. Helen community. “I’ve had more parents email me saying that they approve of our decision than not,” said St. Helens’ School Board chairman Marshall Porter. “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 choose.”
While many schools do allow teachers to carry firearms (like this Oregon school district), some school districts have proposed providing firearms and training for the staff. However, very few teachers and staff are actually interested in participating. In northern Idaho last week, a proposal to arm teachers was dropped by the school, because 14% of the staff and 8% of the teachers were actually interested in being armed and trained. Embarrassingly small, but true. This summer, a school in Arkansas also tried to take measures to arm and train teachers in case of school shooting. The teachers trained all volunteered. However, even after completing said training, the school decided not to arm the teachers, because of public pressure.
So, while many districts do allow school staff to carry, very few actually encourage carrying or train them in case of a shooting. For now, it appears that giving teachers permission to carry is more productive than providing them with a firearm and training. Still, at least they aren’t gun free zones anymore.
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