On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania state Senate voted to pass a bill which would allow teachers in the state to carry firearms while in schools.
The bill was purportedly proposed in an effort to prevent school shootings and defend students, but opponents argue that it does more harm than good.
The bill passed 28-22 and will now head to the House of Representatives for approval.
The bill was introduced nearly four years ago by State Senator Don White of Indiana County. White says he was called to propose the legislation by teachers desperate to be given a better way to defend their students.
Criticism of the bill is rampant, the foremost concern that someone who is intent on doing harm might get their hands on the gun already located inside the school.
The bill hopes to mitigate any potential for misuse by requiring teachers who wish to carry during school hours to pass a psychological exam and undergo training. Opponents argue that the training that would be required to certify these teachers would not be stringent enough, and would not qualify them to use the firearm during an emergency.
Democratic Senator Daylin Leach said the bill was well-intentioned, but still too dangerous.
“We train police officers…far more intensely than this bill ever contemplates a school teacher will be going through and they make mistakes all the time. To put an algebra teacher or an art teacher in the position of fighting it out with somebody with a powerful weapon…it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Leach spoke out against the bill before the vote was held, reading a letter from teachers present during the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. The teachers informed the lawmakers that having had guns present on the day of the deadly shooting which killed 20 would not have made them feel safer, and might instead have made things far worse.
“It’s completely unrealistic to think that an educator with a gun would’ve been able to take down the gunman without interfering with law enforcement’s response or harming or killing other educators or God forbid, children.”
The bill will now head to the State’s Congress where it will be voted on. If passed, it will head to the desk of Governor Tom Wolf.
Wolf Spokesperson J.J. Abbott issued this statement:
“School personnel shouldn’t be told that the only help they will get from Harrisburg to make schools safer is the option to carry a loaded gun around their students. Harrisburg can help schools be safer by giving them adequate funding so schools can hire trained security professionals like school resource or police officers should school professionals feel they need it, and counselors and support staff for students.”