We all want our kids to be safe and able to learn in good and safe schools. We know that guns don’t belong in our schools and will not make our kids safer. But some PA legislators have the misguided notion that arming our teachers is a good idea. Senate Bill 383 and House Bill 870 will make our schools and our kids less safe.
These bills would allow local PA school boards to authorize teachers and school personnel with PA concealed carry licenses and (unspecified) “training” to carry firearms in our schools during the school day.
Unfortunately, there is no requirement in PA that a concealed carry licensee complete any training — either safety or proficiency — to obtain or renew a license. And the types of training outlined in the bill don’t really seem to apply to non-law enforcement civilians. The one phrase in the bill that seemingly defines such training refers to training approved by the state police, but neither the state police nor the bill sponsor could identify such a training program or confirm that one exists.
With good reason, teachers are against the idea of allowing teachers or school personnel to bring firearms into their schools. The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), and both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) have issued strong statements opposing such laws.
At least two major PA studies on the issue have rejected the idea of arming teachers or nonsecurity personnel. A 2013 Joint State Government Commission on Violence report “strongly opposed” arming non-law enforcement personnel in schools because “parameters for use of the weapons would only be as good as the person entrusted to carry one.” It also cited concerns about students accessing the firearms, and about teachers being mistaken for suspects during any active shooter situations. Another study from 2014, conducted by the Pennsylvania House Select Committee on School Safety, did not recommend arming general school personnel.
Teachers, students, parents, and many school board officials agree: this is a bad idea and won’t make our schools safer. We must urgently stand up for the safety of our children and for the people who devote their lives to educating our children and keeping them safe during the day.
The PA Senate passed this bill in June 2017 by a vote of 28-22. The House did not advance the bill during the 2017-18 session, but Governor Wolf had promised to veto the bill if it ever reached his desk.
What Can You Do?
Tell your representative and senator to keep guns out of our classrooms. And let your local school board know you are opposed and ask the school board to let your local legislators know this is a dangerous idea.