HERMISTON, Ore. - A Hermiston gun store is offering free concealed firearms classes to school district staffers.
The Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act states that guns are not allowed on any school property. But after Friday's school shooting in Connecticut, the owner of Eastern Oregon Tactical LLC felt he needed to do something to help local teachers and students.
Erin Heideman is a teacher at Ione Community School. She's an avid hunter and trap shooter and soon to be proud owner of a concealed weapons permit.
"If something were to happen I am responsible for these students and I don't ever want to look back on it and think, you know what, we should've done something better," Heideman said.
"I couldn't really think of any other way to help them but to try to protect our own students here. So I figured offering free concealed classes to our local teachers was about the only thing I had to offer," said Eastern Oregon Tactical owner Nick Goit.
The class takes just a couple of hours and typically costs around $40 or so.
"I teach people how to be safe with a handgun, how to load guns, how to unload guns, how to carry guns on their person safely, how to draw from concealment," Goit said.
He said they also cover the legality of lethal force, similar to law enforcement training. The use of a concealed weapon is intended as a last resort to defend a life.
"I don't think guns in a school system will ever be very palatable. I also think we need to give teachers an opportunity to buy some time. Whether that's with district-issued pepper spray, maybe a taser. Something that's not necessarily lethal that buys us some time to protect our students," Heideman said.
"At least they'll have the ability to carry for their own safety when they're traveling around on their own business and to and from school and things like that," Goit said.
Back in 2009 an Oregon teacher was barred by a school district from bringing her gun to school. She later lost her appeal in the State Supreme Court.
But in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, a group in Arizona is now pushing for guns at public schools there for protection.