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St. Helens School Board repeals policy prohibiting concealed weapons

Board member Ray Biggs cites recent school shootings as motivation to allow conceal carry permit holders to carry firearms


BiggsThe St. Helens School District board voted 4-1 Wednesday, Oct. 21, to repeal a policy that prohibited school teachers and staff to carry weapons within the district's schools.

With the policy removed, all teachers and staff will be allowed to carry concealed weapons within the district's schools, as state and federal law prohibiting guns on school property does not apply to holders of concealed-carry permits.

The motion was brought forward by board member Ray Biggs, who cited last December's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Conn., and the school shooting Monday, Oct. 21, in Sparks, Nev., in which a middle school student opened fire on his campus, killing one teacher and wounding two students.

Biggs said he supports the “possibility of having defensive weaponry in schools so we don't have to wait for the police to arrive.”

Jeff Howell, the only board member opposed to repealing the policy, said, “I would hate to be the teacher in the position who would have to toy with the decision of shooting a child.”

Howell presented statistics to the board, noting low accuracy rates that trained police officers have when operating firearms under pressure.

“Professional hit rates are low to begin with,” he said. “If and when a gun comes out, there will be a less successful rate than trained police ... according to police statistics, they're more likely to hit a child”

Superintendent Mark Davalos said he was in agreement with the old policy to not allow guns on school property.

“I don't disagree with constitutional rights, but this is a school and our interests are what's best for the kids,” said Davalos.

Davalos said the school district would not be liable for any district employee who decides to carry a weapon within a school.

Upon hearing Davalos describe the district as a democracy, Biggs pulled out a copy of the Constitution. “We just pledged allegiance to the republic of the United States,” he said, sternly. “This is not a democracy, this is a republic. There is a huge difference. We're supposed to follow the laws, not majority rules.”

Biggs then opened his pocket Constitution and read aloud the Second Amendment.

While Howell continued to say he opposed the potential to bring more weapons into schools, board members Kellie Smith and Gordon Jarman said repealing the policy would not necessarily mean more guns will be in the district's schools or that any teacher or staff member will be required to use such a weapon if an emergency situation does arise.

“Anybody who would potentially harm our kids wouldn't know who has or doesn't have a concealed carry,” Biggs said. “That's the beauty of it.”

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