(ST. HELENS, Ore.) — A school board in St. Helens, Ore., voted to allow teachers and staff to pack heat on school grounds, an official said.
St. Helens School Board chairman Marshall Porter told ABCNews.com that the board lifted a ban that prevented school employees from carrying guns on campus with concealed weapons permits on Wednesday.
“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.”
The repeal affects the seven schools within the St. Helens School District, including two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and three alternative schools, Porter said.
Porter said he voted to repeal the gun ban to allow adults to protect children if confronted with a school shooting crisis.
“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,” he said. “I do believe we’re talking about educators, people who have the interest of the children in mind.”
Porter said he did not have an opinion on whether schools would be safer if teachers carried weapons in light of recent school shootings.
“I don’t believe we’re safe or less safe,” he said. “We had a school without this policy. We were perfectly safe.”
The school board voted 4-1 to allow teachers to carry weapons with a permit on campus, Porter said.
“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 News’ Portland affiliate KATU-TV.
The board did not receive input from teachers in the district as to their feelings on the repeal, Porter said. While the teachers completed a survey, it was not presented to the board members.
Since the vote, only one parent has contacted Porter about their dissatisfaction with the result, he said.
“I’ve had more parents email me saying that they approve of our decision than not,” Porter said.
The move to repeal the weapons ban was less controversial than the vote to bring back school sports at the district’s middle school, which took place at the same time, Porter said.
St. Helens School District Superintendent Mark Davalos told the South County Spotlight that while he didn’t “disagree with constitutional rights,” “this is a school, and our interests are what’s best for the kids.”
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