Observer staff

Following the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, during which 17 people were killed, many citizens — including President Donald Trump — have spoken in favor of arming teachers to help defend students in the event of an active shooter incident. No school in Union County has announced plans to go this route, but here’s how local school officials, parents and law enforcement members view the idea.

Community's mixed reaction

Parents of children in the La Grande School District and other community members have mixed emotions about potentially arming teachers. Some argued they would feel safer if their child's teacher had a gun, while others are concerned it would be too much for teachers to take on.

Union County teachers share concerns, hopes

La Grande High School social studies teacher John Lamoreau is one of many educators who oppose the idea of allowing teachers to bring firearms into schools. One reason is that walls in many local classrooms are not strong enough to stop bullets. This means if a teacher fired at an active shooter, the bullet could pass through a wall and into a neighboring classroom or hallway.

Law enforcement hesitantly supportive

La Grande School District's School Resource Officer and Union County Sheriff's Dept. Cody Bowen said his biggest fear is that he'll not be there when he's needed. While Bowen said there are other law enforcement officials who step up to protect the schools when he isn't on duty, the constant sense of responsibility is a heavy weight on his shoulders. Local law enforcement are hesitantly in favor of giving teachers the right to bear arms at school to protect the students and themselves.

States’ efforts for legislation

With legislative sessions under way across the country, the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has ignited a wide array of debates on firearms. Some states referenced the recent shooting while pushing already drafted legislation, while others were spurred to draft new legislation — some aiming to arm teachers, some endeavoring to ban guns altogether.

To view the full stories in today's special edition, pick up a copy of the Observer.

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