Just months after instituting a ban on teachers carrying concealed firearms, an Oregon school district reversed course at a recent board of education meeting.
In a 4 to 1 vote, the St. Helens School District board voted to allow teachers to arm themselves as a last resort to combat violence within schools.
The topic has been hotly debated in the wake of several high-profile shootings throughout the past several years. Board Chairman Marshall Porter, however, feels his district has made the right decision. He presides over a fresh batch of board members who did not vote for the handgun ban in March.
“I would say that the risk is more likely that somebody who isn’t following the law is a higher risk to your child coming on to school property than the one that is going to do it legally,” he reasoned. Porter’s rationale resonated with a number of district residents and, according to initial reports, just one parent contacted school administrators to express opposition to the plan.
One parent, Israel Ray, expressed his opinion that “if you had teachers with guns, you’d have a lot less rampages and incidents going on as far as they’ve gone.”
Some students, however, including sophomore Sara Smuin, see the shift as a potential danger.
“If a teacher shot a person in front of everybody in the class, that would honestly scare me,” she said, “and that’s not OK.”
While such a scenario would unquestionably be terrifying for the students involved, the situation would be far more frightening if a violent criminal is the only one with access to a firearm.
Porter conceded the board’s decision will cause a level of concern in the community, though he feels certain it is the best option for everyone in the district.
Praising “responsible” teachers and a populace that is “pretty knowledgeable about guns,” Porter seems confident the district can now handle potential threats more effectively than before the policy change.
While St. Helens School District is not the first to allow teachers to carry guns, it is refreshing to see the board overturn a previous ruling on the issue. By remaining engaged and supporting board members who reflect their own views, this development proves parents can change the direction of the public school system.
–Western Journalism staff writer
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