Republican Senator Donald White of Pennsylvania’s 41st District is a sponsor of SB 1193, which if passed would allow a school district to “establish policy permitting school personnel access to firearms in the buildings or on the grounds of a school.”
White asserted that:
“With the legal authority, licensing and proper training, I believe allowing school administrators, teachers or other staff to carry firearms on the school premises is an option worth exploring.”
The Pennsylvania Republican stressed that if his bill became law, schools would not have to participate.
“My bill will not mandate a school’s participation, but will give school boards the ability to establish policy and put in place protocols needed to enable personnel to exercise their ability to access a firearm on designated school property.”
The bill was introduced at a Education Committee hearing Tuesday, and proponents cited the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and a knife attack at a school near Pittsburgh that injured more than 20 people, as reasons for the need to act.
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Philadelphia Democratic Senator Anthony Williams was skeptical, however, objecting to “the rush to arm people,” according to The Associated Press (AP):
“We think a bullet and a gun is going to solve that, and I frankly think that that’s an overreach for a very complicated layer of issues that we wrap up in the murder of a child.”
But Mark Zilinskas, who teaches in the area where White represents, asserted he could “make a difference” in stopping a school shooting.
“They refer to the police as the first responders and we are the first responders. I am the first responder… I believe that I can make a difference and other people like me can make a difference if we have the proper tools and training.”
The AP reports that the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) did not take a position on the bill because of the debate regarding guns. Stuart Knade, the group’s general counsel said:
“There are great differences of opinion about whether increasing the presence of firearms in schools is a wise or effective approach for enhancing school security… That is not a debate in which it is necessary or productive for PSBA to take a position, and it would be difficult for PSBA to take a position on [the bill] without being perceived as jumping into that other debate.
Photo Credit: Mark T (Flickr)