Should teachers be armed? School district is considering the idea

EAGLE POINT, Ore. (AP) A school district in southern Oregon is considering arming teachers and other staff members to protect students from school violence.

"The first three minutes of an armed attack require an armed response," said Scott Grissom, president of the five-member school board in Eagle Point, a town of about 8,500 north of Medford.

Under Grissom's plan, employees approved by the board would be trained in firearm safety, the Medford Mail Tribune reported.

Those staffers would be allowed to carry firearms on school property during school hours, at school-sponsored events and board meetings. They would also get extra pay and liability insurance.

The board voted 4-1 on Wednesday to have the school superintendent, Cynda Rickert, set up a committee to study the proposal.

But board member Jim Mannenbach urged the board to consider going after federal grants to hire more school resource officers.

"Trained police officers know when to shoot and when not to shoot," he said.

Board member Mary Olsen said hiring more safety resource officers isn't possible now, so training and arming teachers would be a good "temporary stop gap."

Rickert said Grissom had brought up the idea a few months ago.

"My personal inclination is real hesitancy," Rickert said. "As an educator, in my world, this makes me very, very uncomfortable. But I am willing to look into it and see where it takes us."

Rickert said a committee of law enforcement officers, teachers, staff members, parents and legal counsel would do the research.

"We have great partnerships with local law enforcement, so we will rely heavily on their input," Rickert said.

Grissom, recently re-elected to a four-year term, said armed teachers would make Eagle Point students "the safest kids in Oregon and probably on the West Coast.

"I trust our teachers," Grissom said. "An armed intruder wouldn't come into our schools knowing teachers had concealed weapons."

Information from: Mail Tribune

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.