A bill that would allow Oregon schools to ban guns from their premises got its first and last legislative hearing before a Senate committee May 23.
The measure, SB508, would prevent people with concealed handgun licenses to take their weapons onto school campuses, but the Senate Judiciary Committee was reluctant to move it forward.
After the late-night hearing, Committee Chairman John Minnis declined to hold a vote and announced the panel would close for the rest of the session–meaning the bill is most likely dead.
During testimony, supporters argued the bill is common sense and that guns have no place in schools, regardless of whether the owner is licensed to carry a weapon. The bill only authorizes schools to ban guns if they wish to do so.
“I tried to think of a reason why I would carry a gun into a school, to visit my child or someone else, and I haven’t come up with one,” Marion County District Attorney Dale Penn told the committee.
School officials testified there is anecdotal evidence of problems with people coming on to school property with guns.
Ron Naso, superintendent of North Clackamas School District, said a night custodian accidentally left a backpack with a gun and ammunition in a school elevator overnight. The backpack was found by a teacher the next morning.
In addition to safety concerns, Naso said he worries what kind of message students get from seeing adults with guns on school property, when students would be expelled for a year if they did the same.
Opponents of the bill, however, argued that people with concealed handgun permits can be trusted because they go through rigorous background checks and training before they can be licensed.
“If there’s anyone we should be able to trust around school property, it’s someone with a concealed handgun permit,” said Sen. Gary George.