This article, although originally written in 2001, still applies today.
On January 28th 2005, the Senate Judiciary Committee brought this bill back as Senate Bill 335. The hearing was held in the Multnomah County Courthouse, (to prevent persons with concealed handgun licenses from attending while in possession of their legal self defense firearms).
Reserved seating was provided for the those who supported attacking your rights. Opponents of the bill received no such courtesy. Supporters of the bill were informed of the hearing date well in advance of the general public, and the bill that was heard was different than the bill which was available to the general public. It is notable that virtually everyone who came to support taking your gun rights away used the tragic murders at Columbine High School as an explanation for why this bill was needed. None would explain what that ridiculous example had to do with taking gun rights away from persons with concealed handgun licenses. Many suggested that armed civilians were not capable or equipped to respond to a school shooting and that job should be left to the highly trained police. None mentioned that the school shooting in Pearl Mississippi was stopped by an armed civilian. None mentioned that at Columbine, the highly trained police stayed outside while children and teachers were gunned down.
If you were following the gun rights battle in this state as recently as the 1999 session, you are aware of the fight that took place over guns in public schools.
Emboldened by their victory with Ballot Measure 5, the anti-gun nuts and their major mouthpiece, Senator Ginny Burdick took aim at the rights of concealed handgun licensees.
Senate Bill 508 was the intended vehicle to mount this assault.
What the bill attempted to do was turn over the power to criminalize gun possession, on public school property and anywhere school children gathered, to local school districts.
Current Oregon law is clear. Only the state has the power to further restrict the “rights” of CHL holders. (Obviously, if carrying a gun was treated by the state as the “right” it was intended to be, none of this would be an issue. But the state does not recognize “rights” at this time, only government sanctioned privileges.)
If the state did not have sole power in this area, there would be no reason to even introduce SB 508.
As you probably know, after extensive and sophomoric sideshow theatrics by its sponsors, 508 was given a hearing on May 23rd, 2001.
The bill never got out of committee and died the ignominious death it so richly deserved. So, the right of a CHL holder to be on public school grounds was once again demonstrated beyond any doubt. But it would seem not everyone got the message.
As of the date of this writing, Nov. 2001, the Portland Oregon Schools are still posting signs warning CHL holders that they risk “arrest” if they are on school property with their defensive firearms. There is no doubt that the Portland Schools are violating the law.
On January 10, 2000 Jeffery Millner wrote a letter to Mr. Bruce Samson.
Samson was General Counsel for a Portland School District, Millner was an attorney at the law firm of Miller Nash.
The letter begins, “Dear Bruce, You have asked for our opinion regarding the ability of the District to control the presence of guns on its premise when the gun owner has a concealed weapon permit.” (sic)
Included in Millner’s convoluted and tortured attempts to justify the school district’s flouting of the rule of law are several telling comments. After citing several portions of the law, Millner says “These statutes arguably negate the school boards ability to regulate the possession of firearms on school grounds under ORS 332.072 through ORS 332.107.
Further on in his letter Millner states the following:
“We believe that the weight of public sentiment would undoubtedly rest with the District’s policy. Should and individual sue the District because he is asked to leave school grounds for carrying a concealed firearm, even if he had a concealed weapon(sic) permit, the District will likely be seen as taking the high ground for the protection of students, staff and the public.”
While it is fascinating to see one attorney advise another based on perceived “public sentiment” rather than what the law says, Millner makes even more telling comments later in his letter.
Immediately after the above quote, Millner says the following:
“We recognize, however that the District may have an uphill battle should this matter be litigated in light of the statutes described above that attempt to vest the authority to regulate firearms solely with the Oregon legislature.” (Emphasis added.)
Millner closes his letter by advising the School District to continue to follow its illegal policy until challenged in Court, at which point “the District School Board could then make a policy determination as to the best course of action to pursue.”
After being challenged by OFF attorneys, Jollee Patterson, General Counsel for the Portland Public Schools wrote on Nov. 14 2001, “I previously sent you the School Board policy that prohibits anyone except a peace office from carrying a weapon onto school district policy.(sic) The District intends to continue to comply with the terms of that policy.”
Patterson in essence is stating that the Portland Public Schools intend to continue violating the law until forced to defend themselves. Something they will do with your money.
By the way.If you want to know what the Oregon School Board Association’s position is, you can see it here. They don’t want you to have your self defense firearm in a school, but even they say it’s legal.
Rest assured, no matter what signs are posted in any public school in Oregon, no matter what lies are told to you by bureaucrats gorging themselves at the public trough, if you are a valid CHL holder you are completely within your rights to carry your defensive firearm on the grounds of any Oregon Public School. (Adobe Reader Required)