Lehigh Valley

Bill that would allow teachers to carry guns moves forward

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A Pennsylvania state senate committee moved a bill forward that would give public school districts the option of allowing teachers to carry guns.

The bill is in response to a long list of school shootings around the country, but it has plenty of detractors.

The Senate Education Committee voted 9-3 in favor of the bill Wednesday, moving it closer to a full senate vote.

"I have some concerns about it.  We are educators  That is our business, we have our hands full doing that. We are not trained law enforcement officials," said Allentown School District interim superintendent Gary Cooper.

His comments echo those of the teachers' union in Pennsylvania.  PSEA leaders say:

"Teachers are not trained law enforcement officers – their job is to educate children and act as role models," said PSEA leaders. "PSEA is for strategies that keep students safe. This bill doesn’t keep students safe. That’s why we oppose it."

"This board of education, the school district has spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in security measures" added Cooper.

These measures include hiring school resource officers and security technology like surveillance cameras.

In Cooper's opinion, there are many questions that should be addressed before this bill moves forward.

"What would our local police say about coming into a building and not only having potentially one armed shooter but many?" asked Cooper. "What does arming teachers really produce, a safer environment? I think this is probably best left to the law enforcement officials."

Republican State Senator Donald White from western Pennsylvania is a co-sponsor of the bill. He said the proposal would provide another option for schools, especially those in rural areas by providing a quick response to school shootings.

"I believe we need to consider providing school employees with more choices than just locking a door, hiding in a closet or diving in front of bullets to protect students," White wrote in a memo sent to colleagues before he introduced the bill.

Governor Tom Wolf would be unlikely to sign the bill if it eventually passed. Even then, school districts would have the final say on whether teachers and other employees could bring guns to school.

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