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Our Opinion: Eagle Point committee correctly recommends against arming teachers

After 11 months of meetings, an Eagle Point School District committee appointed to consider arming teachers with guns to protect students from a mass shooting decided against it. That was the right call.

The 20-member Eagle Point Weapons Safety Committee deadlocked 10-10 on the lesser question of whether to change district policy and remove a clause in the employee handbook barring staff members with concealed handgun licenses from bringing guns to school.

The idea of arming teachers was a bad one from the beginning, primarily because it would increase the risk of a potentially deadly accident without making students appreciably safer in the unlikely event of a real mass shooting incident. In addition, it could make it impossible or, at best, extremely expensive for the district to maintain liability insurance coverage.

The committee did recommend stiffer security measures, including training for teachers, single points of entry to buildings, buzzed entry systems and silent panic alarms. Those are all appropriate, and district officials say they can be accomplished in the next year.

The committee deserves credit for overwhelmingly rejecting the concept of arming teachers. Now the matter is in the hands of the School Board.

The board could choose to ignore the recommendation and arm teachers anyway, but it appears that is unlikely. Board Chairman Scott Grissom did say he was disappointed that the committee could not agree on "going silent" on allowing staff members to carry guns at school if they wish. He said he would urge Superintendent Cynda Rickert to change the district policy and ask the board to direct her to do so if she refused.

Changing the policy would not be as dramatic as it might sound, because 85 percent of Oregon school districts' official policies are silent on the issue. We're not aware of any accidents at Oregon schools involving guns belonging to teachers, and we suspect few teachers do or would choose to carry on the job.

The Eagle Point district does include schools in remote locations with limited police protection. A Shady Cove Middle School teacher said he would likely bring his gun to school in his vehicle if it were allowed, because the town has no police department.

Whatever decision the School Board ultimately makes, one fact should be clearly understood: A district policy forbidding employees from carrying guns at school — such as Medford's — does not violate anyone's Second Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly found that the Second Amendment is not absolute, meaning reasonable restrictions are permissible. That's why it's against the law to carry a gun on an airplane or into a courthouse, why private businesses are free to prohibit guns on their premises — and why school boards are well within their rights to decide guns don't belong at school.