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Published: Saturday, 1/21/2012


Flagrant foul

Leave the guns at home when you go to school: Unless you are a police officer or other authorized person, that's Ohio law. There is no exception for sports officials.

Chances are, a referee assigned to a recent girls' basketball game at Southview High School in Sylvania Township knew that. But it didn't stop him from storing a bag containing a 9-millimeter handgun in a locker in the officials' changing room.

While he was on the court officiating the game, an unidentified man walked into the locker room and took the bag. The good news is that no one at the game was injured. The bad news is that an armed thief is on the loose.

The referee isn't talking publicly about why the gun, for which he had a concealed-carry permit, was in his bag. But he will have to explain that to the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, which could charge him with bringing a weapon into a school safety zone -- a felony.

Those who believe that legal gun owners should be able to carry their weapons just about everywhere say that incidents such as this one are rare exceptions to the rule that exercising the constitutional right to bear arms makes everyone safer. It is surely true that most gun owners are mature, responsible, and law-abiding.

But background checks, training, and safety certification can't guarantee that people who carry guns legally will always show good judgment. If there were no rules against bringing firearms into school buildings, such incidents likely would occur more frequently.

Southview school officials said the referee won't be invited back to the district. Other schools in the league should do the same, if league officials don't fire him first. But that shouldn't be the end of this matter, or at least its investigation.

Every schoolchild knows you don't take a gun into a school. Leaving it where anybody can walk off with it is a flagrant foul that calls for immediate ejection.

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