Debate over bill that would allow school employees to carry guns in Pennsylvania

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HARRISBURG, Penn. (WPMT) — Legislators are working to make schools safer following shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The state senate recently passed a bill that would allow licensed school employees to carry guns in schools.

But opponents of the bill, including CeaseFirePA and the State Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, said that is not the solution.

Shira Goodman, the executive director of CeaseFirePA, said, “A safe back to school does not include guns in the classrooms, guns in the cafeteria, guns in the hands of teachers and administrators.”

They gave examples with three videos showing how guns would be in easy reach of children if the bill passed.

Goodman said, “So the scenarios we’re presenting, while shocking, are perfectly legal if these bills are passed and perfectly plausible.”

Senator John Eichelberger, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement: “I hope the Secretary simply didn’t understand that he was being used by left wing organizations to support their cause. This legislation was developed at the request of school teachers who are concerned about the security of themselves and the children in their classrooms.

It also clarifies, in law, the allowance of firearms on school premises.

This legal issue is unclear today with one school district allowing firearms under the directives of a board policy.

This bill provides an option for each district to decide if they would allow firearms, and then sets forth strict training and other requirements for approved possession.

It is particularly important to many rural districts that have police response times of 30 or 40 minutes.

At a time when budgets are tight, districts are asking for more local control.

With the threat of violence and terrorism at an all-time high, this law would provide a viable option for some districts to address their security concerns.”

Organizations and Rivera are asking legislators to instead invest more in public schools.

Rivera said, “We know there are a number of tools that exist in schools today that will allow students to come to school in a safe environment. We have to continue to invest in those tools.”

Susan Spicka, the executive director of Education Voters, said, “So our schools have enough money to hire trained professionals that they need including counselors and nurses, so that they can support evidence-based programs that have demonstrated improved school climate and that prevent violent incidents before they happen.”

The state house is considering the bill, and if it passes, the governor has said he will veto it.