Altoona, PA Looking To Arm Private Security Guards For Schools

With all the talk about school safety and concern about mass shootings at schools, one would think lawmakers would be looking for any edge possible to combat the scourge. While the claims that school mass shootings are an epidemic is grossly overstated, we can all agree that even one mass shooting is one too many.

For all the talk of guns being bad and the claims that more guns on campuses is a terrible idea, Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor recently signed a bill to allow private security guards to carry guns in schools, so long as they undergo certain training.

Altoona, Pennsylvania appears to be one of the first communities to take advantage of that law.

Altoona Area is the only school district in Blair County moving to allow trained civilian security guards to carry guns in school.

Other area districts won’t be arming civilian security guards, but they might employ school resource officers or contract with law enforcement agencies for personnel authorized to carry weapons.

This month, over the objections of some gun-control groups, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law clarifying that civilian security guards with proper training can carry a weapon on school property.

Last year, the Senate led the charge on advancing measures to increase school safety and security in public schools after the February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Through Act 44 of 2018, security measures, including a new School Safety and Security Grant program were created.

But a recent memorandum from the Department of Education had interpreted provisions related to school security guards in that legislation as not having the authority to carry a firearm. School police officers were interpreted as the only personnel to carry guns.

To ensure that ability for security guards to carry guns, Senate Bill 621 was passed this year through both legislative chambers and signed by the governor on July 2.

The Pennsylvania legislature is heavily Republican, which may suggest why they would pass a bill like this, but Wolf is a Democrat. Based on his support of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, and his illegal efforts to pass gun control in his community, he’s an anti-gun Democrat, too.

Yet he signed a bit that allows armed civilians. What gives?

Well, first is the obvious fact that he’s creating a special class of civilian who will be allowed to carry provided they undergo some specific training. Anti-gunners often claim the problem with civilian carry is a lack of training, so it’s likely Wolf felt like he had no choice in the matter.

Additionally, Wolf may have needed to sign the bill to get something he wanted. Good old-fashioned politics at its finest.

Regardless, at least some students may find themselves a little bit safer going forward. While this doesn’t go nearly far enough in my opinion–security guards and school resource officers are obvious targets for a maniac to shoot first; thus we need armed teachers as well–it’s at least a step. Once this goes into place, it’ll be easier to expand things without much controversy.

And this is, ultimately, an increase in gun rights. It’s a small one, but a small step forward is better than any step back.

Then again, maybe I’m way too optimistic.

What I do notice, however, is that despite Wolf’s anti-gun stance, he seems to understand that more guns in the hands of good guys will help prevent school violence.