Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Pennsylvania lawmakers advance bill allowing teachers to carry guns

Pennsylvania lawmakers advance bill allowing teachers to carry guns

"Bad guys keep finding a way to get into our schools and create these tragedies", said Sen. Scott Martin, a Martic Township Republican who co-sponsored the bill.

Republican State Sen. Donald White, the sponsor of the bill, says it would provide another option to improve the safety and security of children, teachers and school staff.

"Just because they're not a police officer or whatnot does not mean they don't know how to handle a weapon responsibly", Martin said.

This purports to be a public safety measure, but the bill neither mandates nor funds firearms or public safety training for those who would pack heat at school.

"We have provisions to have guards, and school resource officers and things like that whose job is the safety of the school", she said. The bill is based on recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control for the optimal time to start school for improved public health of teenage students.

Senate Bill 383 is labeled as "providing for protection and defense of students".

"This makes a big statement to the education community that the state Senate Education Committee is using sound and definitive research to put the best interests of our students first", Portantino said.

Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePa, voiced concerns over the bill's lack of detail regarding how guns would be stored in schools and the fact that teachers would have to take training classes designed for law enforcement.

He added, "Harrisburg can help schools be safer by giving them adequate funding so schools can hire trained security professionals", and noted Wolf supports increasing funding for the Education Department's Safe Schools Initiative.

State teachers unions oppose the bills on the sensible grounds that teachers are educators rather than trained bodyguards or police.

"This legislation would create more problems for first responders arriving at the scene of an armed confrontation, making it more hard to immediately distinguish a perpetrator from a school employee", said Jerry Oleksiak, the union's president.

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