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They Teach, But They Can’t Read

It’s always troubling when bureaucracies either cannot understand the law, or simply choose to break it.

A case in point is the Eugene “4J” School District, headed by Dr. Sheldon Berman. (541-790-7707 )

Sheldon Berman
Sheldon Berman


No matter how you feel about it, Oregon law clearly allows persons with Oregon concealed handgun licenses to be on public school property.

Now, there is no question that the government school monopoly is not happy about this, and in spite of zero examples of any CHL holder ever hurting or threatening anyone, they return year after year to the legislature to demand that CHL holders be banned from their property.

This is ironic, of course, given the number of times armed civilians have stopped school shootings. But for the public school establishment, politics trumps kid’s safety.

The Eugene 4J school district has a policy that forbids anyone, even persons with concealed handgun licenses from being on their property with a firearm.  You can see it here.

They even post it on big signs on their school doors.

Sign on Eugene school door.
Sign on Eugene school door.

Look folks, this isn’t news. Those policies are void. Period. This was settled when we sued the Oregon University System in 2011. The courts found that schools simply do not have the authority to make rules of this kind. In the Oregon Appeals Court ruling they said of the Oregon University System’s similar policy:

Therefore, we conclude that OAR 580-022-0045 is an exercise of an “authority to regulate” firearms that is not expressly authorized by the Legislative Assembly, and that it is preempted by ORS 166.170(1).Accordingly, the rule exceeds the agency’s authority, ORS 183.400(4)(b), and is invalid.  OAR 580-022-0045(3) held invalid.”

Really Dr. Berman, it was in all the papers.

Gun owners face an endless array of rules, regulations, orders, laws and statutes and we are expected to understand and obey every one of them. So why do bureaucrats like Berman believe they are above the law? Notice, the policy was readopted  in May of this year! Are we to believe that no one in the Eugene school district was aware of the court’s ruling?  If so, we’d hate to see the social studies classes there.

But it does not end there of course. The Oregon Department of Education “Early Learning Division” has an administrative rule dealing with day care centers. OAR 414-300-0170 says, among other things, “The possession and/or storage of firearms and ammunition are prohibited in the center.”

We wondered how this could be legal so we started contacting them last year about this. Here is a response our lawyer got after months of run arounds, from Kathleen Hynes “Legal and Compliance Manager Office of Child Care The Early Learning Division”

Thank you for your inquiry. Counsel for the agency has researched the question Mr. Starrett posed regarding regulation of firearms in child care facilities.   The agency has also considered the issue under its policies and procedures, and has concluded that the administrative rules in question don’t violate the statute that Mr. Starrett referenced, or any other laws or case law concerning firearm regulation.”

Oh really? Not so fast Kathleen.  This month, Legislative Counsel weighed in on this.  Those are the folks who actually write the laws for the legislature.  Here’s what they said:

“The short answer is that we believe that ORS 166.170 preempts OAR 414-300- 0170(1)(k) and that, if it were challenged, the rule would very likely be declared invalid.”


“It is, on its face, an administrative rule that regulates the possession and storage of firearms and ammunition and it therefore falls within the scope of preemption under ORS 166.170. Because there is not a state statute expressly authorizing the Department of Education, the Early Learning Division or any child care facility to regulate the possession or storage of firearms or ammunition within a child care facility, we believe a court would declare this rule invalid under ORS 166.170”.

So let’s be clear. If you are in possession of an Oregon CHL and you are not doing something illegal, you are allowed on public school property with a firearm. We will actively litigate against any school district that attempts to implement this policy in violation of Oregon law and we will contribute to the legal defense of any person ensnared by policies of this kind. If you run a day center you cannot be prohibited from have the tools you need to defend those children when the monsters come calling.

And don’t think this is isolated. See here and here.

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