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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
US teacher sues to carry handgun
File photograph of a handgun
The debate on carrying guns in schools is an emotive issue
A high school teacher in the US state of Oregon is suing for the right to carry a handgun to work.

The teacher, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, says she needs the gun to protect herself from an abusive ex-husband who has threatened her.

The Medford School District prohibits teachers from bringing weapons onto school grounds.

The case has grabbed the attention of both sides of the debate on firearms in schools and universities.

School safety became a national issue after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, in which two students killed 13 people.

The issue was raised again after a student shot dead 32 people at Virginia Tech University in April.

Anti-gun advocates say the tragedies show the need for tighter gun control. Pro-gun supporters say armed teachers and pupils would act as a deterrent and prevent further tragedies.

'Safe environment'

The teacher has been identified in court papers as "Jane Doe", in order to protect her from her former spouse.

In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, the veteran teacher said that while she only bought her first gun during the breakdown of her marriage, she also believed that having responsible armed adults on campus could prevent further shootings.

"I have no doubt at all that any time a criminal has gone into a school intending to commit violence, they did so knowing nobody was going to be able to stop them," she said.

The Oregon Firearms Federation, which is paying her legal bills, said state law gave her the right to protect herself.

However, a lawyer for the school district said it had the right to "regulate the conduct of its employees to foster a safe environment for students and staff".

A hearing is set for mid-October.

Timeline: US school shootings
17 Apr 07 |  Americas
Q&A: US campus killings
17 Apr 07 |  Americas

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