Tuesday, November 25, 2003
The authors of the Bill of Rights guaranteed for us many fundamental freedoms.
Is the freedom to carry a concealed weapon into a school really one of them?
The Oregon School Boards Association proposed a resolution Nov. 15 to ban concealed weapons from public school property and school-sponsored activities.
Predictably, members of the National Rifle Association object. They probably already have postcards to Oregon legislators in the mail. The pressure works. They defeated similar measures in past legislative sessions.
The NRA has a point. People get concealed weapon permits only after going through safety training, state and federal criminal records checks, photographing and fingerprinting. Besides, a legal concealed weapon has never resulted in a dangerous incident at a public school.
It may even make sense for a highly trained designated adult to have access to a weapon should the need arise to protect students and staff.
Still, if OSBA members fail to make a case that concealed weapons present a hazard, gun advocates fail to make a case that concealed weapons present a solution.
Would a civilian with a concealed weapon have prevented the tragedies at Thurston, Columbine and other high school shootings? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.
It depends on the civilian and a thousand other variables. An open firefight might have made matters worse.
We see more risks in bringing a loaded weapon into a school than we see the potential of a civilian to resolve a violent situation through gunplay.
NRA members would argue the right to keep and bear arms and that no right should be denied without a compelling motive. Individual rights are always a balancing act. The fact that one needs a government-issued license to carry a concealed weapon attests to that.
We think America can maintain the blessings of liberty, even if Americans aren't free to bring concealed weapons to school.
There are many civil liberties worth fighting for, but the right to carry a loaded concealed weapon into a school is a strange one indeed.