By Gerri Elder
In Oregon, a teacher is fighting for the right to carry a gun with her into the classroom to protect herself from her ex-husband.
The teacher is identified only as "Jane Doe" in the lawsuit. She wishes to pack her Glock 9-mm pistol into her high school classroom in Medford, Oregon where she teaches school.
The woman is licensed to carry a concealed weapon and claims that she has a valid reason for wanting to have the gun with her in class. Her ex-husband, against whom she has a restraining order, has reportedly made threats against her and her children since their divorce.
Whether her reason is a valid argument to carry the gun into the school, it certainly touches a hot spot that is sure to ignite debate about firearms and school safety.
The school district that employs Jane Doe has a strict policy that only law enforcement officers are allowed to carry weapons on school property. When it became public knowledge that Ms. Doe had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, the school administration reminded her of the district policy.
However, the school district may not have the authority to make that decision. It appears that it is a matter of state law.
According to Oregon state law, "any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition, is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly.
Doe is backed by gun-rights groups who say she has the right under the Second Amendment to carry the weapon, even into her classroom. While she is in court challenging the school district's policy, lawmakers all over the country are filing bills to make it legal and commonplace for teachers to carry guns at school. In some cases the bills even provide for special weapons safety training for those teachers who want to not only teach, but to be a part of their school's security teams.
James Leuenberger, the lawyer who represents the teacher, says "There's a specific state statute that prohibits local governments, including school districts, from passing laws or policies prohibiting people from owning or possessing firearms.
The teacher says that she purchased a gun while in the process of getting out of an abusive relationship and divorcing her husband. She says that prior to buying the gun a few years ago she was not an activist for the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
She does say that in light of incidents such as the shootings at Colombine High School and Virginia Tech University, she now believes that having responsible adults on campus with guns could prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening at schools. She makes the point any time a violent criminal enters a school with a plan to commit violence, they know that there is no one there that can stop them. She believes that if teachers were able to carry weapons, it could be a deterrent to these violent criminals and increase school safety.
There are still many people who oppose guns on school property. Most teachers' organizations, administrators and law enforcement agencies support laws that ban firearms at schools. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 37 states have laws that specifically ban guns at schools. Police officials say that in a school shooting situation, more guns in the mix would only make things more dangerous.
Jane Doe will have her say in court. Will the judge decide that the restraining order that she got against her ex-husband after her divorce provides enough protection, or will they allow her to pack her Glock pistol in the classroom? Gun-rights groups and school administrators across the country are watching closely, waiting and wondering about the outcome of this high-stakes case in Oregon.