The Bend-La Pine Schools community, as well as local city and county government officials, had mixed reactions to a bill passing through the Oregon Legislature that would ban firearms from state buildings and potentially give more local control over concealed, permitted firearms in publicly owned spaces.
Under the proposed bill, local entities like the school district, would have to vote on whether they want to follow a state ban. One potential impact: The bill would make it easier for Bend-La Pine Schools to prohibit parents from bringing concealed, but permitted weapons onto school grounds during parent-teacher conferences.
That would be welcomed by Bend High School history teacher Amy Sabbadini.
“I’m not okay with concealed weapons in schools,” she said. “I’ve been in many a meeting with parents that were very tense, and I’ve never liked the idea that one of them could be armed.”
At the moment, Bend-La Pine Schools does not allow students, staff or volunteers to bring concealed guns onto school property or to school-sponsored events. However — in accordance with state law — other people, like visitors or parents, can bring concealed weapons into schools if they are permitted to do so, said Julianne Repman, director of safety and communication for Bend-La Pine.
School resource officers, or law enforcement stationed inside schools, are allowed to carry weapons, Repman said.
Carrie Douglass, chair of the Bend-La Pine School Board, declined to state her personal feelings on allowing concealed carry in schools. First, she wanted to review the bill and the district’s policies, as well as speak with experts, she told The Bulletin.
Fellow board member Amy Tatom also said she wanted to see the bill for herself before making any comments.
But generally, Tatom — whose family owns guns, she said — doesn’t think firearms should be inside schools.
“I think guns, with education and proper safety measures, are something that exist in our society, and aren’t going away anytime soon,” she told The Bulletin. “But do I believe guns belong on school property? Absolutely not.”
Jace Bracelin, a junior at Summit High School, had mixed feelings on not allowing concealed carry in schools. On one hand, he knew people currently had the right to do so, but he also believes it would be smart to not allow guns inside schools.
“I would hope it’s common sense not to bring a gun into a school,” Bracelin, 17, said. “If it isn’t, I could see the need for action to be taken.”
Furthermore, if visitors shouldn’t have guns in school, then neither should police officers stationed at the schools, Bracelin said.
“I don’t necessarily think anybody should have a gun in a school: no students, no adults, and no cops,” he said.
This bill is also being mulled over by Deschutes County and city of Bend officials.
Commission Chair Tony DeBone said the commission has yet to discuss the bill, but that in general he does not support the idea of creating a subset of places where people can and can’t concealed carry weapons.
“I have not been supportive of implementing a ban like that,” DeBone said Friday.
Commissioner Phil Chang said he did not have a comment. Commissioner Patti Adair did not respond to a request for comment.
Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell said she thinks not allowing firearms into city buildings is a good idea, though she has concerns about how a ban like that would be enforced. Campbell said there have been a handful of moments as a councilor where she has felt unsafe.
“I have thought through what would I do, how would I respond,” Campbell said, in reference to someone with a gun coming into city hall.
Bend City Councilor Megan Perkins is in favor of banning weapons from city buildings.
“It should be a priority to protect our buildings that are essential to the functioning of government,” Perkins wrote in a text.
“With the increase in extremist groups in Central Oregon we need to do everything we can for public safety.”
Weapons are already prohibited in some public buildings, including municipal court and City Hall, said Joshua Romero, a spokesperson for the city.