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‘All about safety’: Stronger gun policy in Bend-La Pine Schools

An update to district's 'no guns on campus' policy, including concealed carry

(Updated: adding links to revised district policies)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The punishment for bringing a weapon on school grounds in Bend-La Pine Schools has always been determined by its own policy, which could include banning a person from a school. Now, under a revised policy for prohibiting firearms, bringing a gun on a school campus - even with a concealed carry permit -- could result in a year in prison, a $6,250 fine or both, under a new state law.

Senate Bill 554, went into effect in September, gives school districts the authority to adopt stricter gun policies. Part of the new law also includes educating the community about secure gun storage and safety.

Heather McNeil is a member of the Bend Chapter for Moms Demand Action, an organization that fights for public safety measures to protect people from gun violence. She submitted testimony to the school board and pushed for the policy to be adopted.

(Related, updated Bend-La Pine policies involve students and staff as well as volunteers, contractors and building use permit-holders.)

"It's all about safety," McNeil said Friday. "It's all about taking care of our kids. Lockdowns are happening, and they're so terrifying, and we need to do what we can to make sure that kids are safe."

McNeil's daughter graduated from Summit High School.

"If my child was still in school, I would take a huge breath of relief," She said. "Just to know that the school district is taking this seriously and caring about the safety of children -- that makes me relieved and I'm proud that's what they're doing and that they recognize the importance of that."

Bend-La Pine Schools is one of three Oregon school districts that have adopted the policy.

Julianne Repman, a spokesperson for the district told NewsChannel 21 why they voted to implement it.

"We just really believe that this is something that helps to create a better environment for teaching and learning," Repman said. "It takes a little bit of stress off our students and staff and those volunteering in our schools to know that we're taking this extra step to create this learning environment that they can really thrive in and not worry about their safety."

The change will begin within the new year and there will be increased signage and education.

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.


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