In 1999, school officials found a loaded handgun in the unattended backpack of a school janitor at Mount Scott Elementary. The janitor--a concealed weapons permit holder--sued the school for firing him, claiming they lacked the legal authority. According to current state law, any citizen with a concealed weapon permit may bring a firearm onto school premises.

In order to prevent situations like this one in the future, local legislators Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) and Ryan Deckert(D-Beaverton) have introduced bills SB508 and SB915 to the Senate. These bills would grant school districts the legal leverage to enact such gun restrictions.

The ease with which Oregonians can obtain concealed weapon permits began in 1989 when then-Speaker of the House Vera Katz orchestrated a deal to institute background checks and mandatory waiting periods for gun purchases. Faced with an intense gun lobby, Katz succumbed to a quid pro quo that relaxed restrictions on concealed weapons permits. Consequently, county sheriffs lost their power of discretion to award or deny a concealed weapons permit. Instead, the new law granted permits to anyone who completed the necessary paperwork along with a three hour course on safety.

Although NRA certified, the courses have no standard curriculum or required examinations. According to the Washington County Concealed Handgun Licensing Unit, many instructors fail to even bring a gun to class to assist in demonstrations.

In Multnomah County alone, the permits issued rose from less than 20 before 1989, to over 14,000 today. While the proposed bills will not necessarily curb this increase, they will make it impossible for any one other than trained professionals to carry guns in schools.