Pa. Senate Passes Bill to Allow Teachers to Carry Guns in School
An hour-long debate had both sides presenting arguments as to whether or not teachers should be able to carry guns on school property.
The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that would give school boards the option to allow teachers with a concealed carry license to possess a gun on school property.
Legislators passed Senate Bill 383 last week in a 28-22 vote with 26 Republican supporters and two Democratic supporters.
The bill will have to be approved by the House of Representatives and then will be handed down to Governor Tom Wolf, who has voiced strong opposition.
Under the bill, teachers must meet training requirements in a program approved by the State Police and must pass psychological evaluations.
The bill also requires school boards to notify local hospitals and students’ families when an employee is given permission to carry a firearm.
The school board must file a comprehensive safety plan with law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction over the school.
“I will sleep better at night knowing our school districts have more tools at their disposal to fight the unspeakable evil that causes a few in our society to seek to harm our children,” said Republican Indiana Senator Don White, the bill’s sponsor.
His urge to sponsor the bill came after a 2014 stabbing at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Twenty one students and an unarmed security guard were stabbed. White’s concern was what could have happened had the perpetrator had an automatic firearm.
“Teachers have come to me and said I want the opportunity to defend my children and to defend my life and give me something more powerful than an eraser to throw at these people,” said White.
There was an hour-long heated debate on the floor with each side voicing opinions.
A letter from teachers who survived the Sandy Hook shooting was read aloud, urging legislators not to pass the bill.
The Pennsylvania State Educators’ Association, made up of more than 180,000 Pennsylvania teachers, released a statement opposing the bill as well.
“Our Association does oppose arming teachers, education support professionals, and other school staff whose primary responsibility should continue to be educating students, not policing school buildings and grounds with firearms,” said PSEA President Jerry Oleksiak.
Senator Majority Leader Jake Corman, a supporter of the bill, said that the bill’s aim is to allow school districts to have an armed security guard, not to put guns “in the hands of school nurses”.