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School district must weigh firearm decision carefully

It’s difficult to say what the outcome would be if the Estacada School District were to decide to allow district employees to carry concealed weapons on campus.

It’s a very real possibility because at least three of the seven voting members of the school board are openly supportive of the idea.

It’s possible that such a decision would be challenged in court or even at the legislative level. But there is some precedent in Oregon that may suggest that such a course of action would be legal.

The Oregon Supreme Court ruled in September 2011 that a ban of firearms on university campuses — imposed by the Oregon Board of Higher Education — was in violation of the state’s Concealed Carry Act. That means people are free to carry licensed concealed weapons on the campuses of the state’s largest universities.

Taking that a little deeper, the ruling does not apply to the state’s community colleges, which are under the jurisdiction of elected boards. As long as the local board wants guns out, the guns need to stay out. But by the same token, there doesn’t appear to be any restriction on local school districts from allowing firearms on campus when people possess concealed-carry permits.

Even the community college prohibition is in limbo. That’s because the community colleges could be challenged at any time in court on their strict prohibition against firearms. Who knows how the courts would rule, but the previous Supreme Court ruling certainly would weigh heavily on the outcome.

So the best we can say right now is that it appears school districts have tepid authority to decide for themselves at this time, but it’s all subject to change at the whim of the courts and the Legislature.

None of that, however, answers the one question that should be asked: Is it a good idea?

When a gunman — intent on mayhem — is gunned down by an armed school librarian, the gun lobby will hail it as the perfect example of why people with concealed-carry permits should be allowed to pack heat in schools.

And when that gunman disarms that librarian and turns her firearm against her, and then uses it to harm others, the anti-gun lobby will hail it as evidence for why guns have no place on campuses.

It’s a vicious, never ending circle.

For us, we would rather know that district personnel are trained to handle crisis situations, and that firearms are kept out of schools. We are fearful of what happens when an inattentive teacher/librarian/custodian allows their weapon to fall into the hands of a young child.

We are mindful that a concealed-carry permit is no guarantee that a person is qualified to use the weapon in a dangerous situation, or will even be able to squeeze the trigger at the moment of truth.

The Estacada School District shouldn’t put guns in schools just to make a point about the Second Amendment.

We hope the Estacada School District approaches this issue with sensitivity and genuine concern , with an open mind that at least entertains the notion that this may be a really, really bad idea.



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