Pennsylvania bill would allow teachers to carry guns

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Schools are a far-too-regular target for mass shooters. Students, teachers, and staff have been killed during these horrific events.

Further, schools are generally gun-free zones in most places, though that’s certainly never stopped a would-be mass shooter. That shouldn’t be surprising since the laws against murder don’t dissuade them either.

Because of this fact, there’s a lot of debate on how to stop such shootings, and they run from gun bans to arming teachers.

A bill to do the latter just popped up in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s Republican gubernatorial nominee formally submitted a legislative proposal to set parameters for school employees including teachers to choose to carry firearms on school grounds as a measure to protect against gun violence.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano’s bill would create school safety certifications, issued by school districts to employees who apply and meet specific criteria.

The criteria include having a state-issued concealed carry license, completing 15 to 30 hours of certified firearms training with an emphasis on school safety, and being certified proficient in the use of firearms.

Mastriano said he’s heard from school staff in his legislative district who want the option to carry and developed the proposal with current and former law enforcement who also instruct firearms safety courses.

“It’s important to note that Senate Bill 1288 would not be a mandate on schools or the staff but would give school staff the ability to be a last line of defense if they choose to go through the certification process,” Mastriano said in a statement through his office.

It’s a great bill that would make a great law. It’s just too bad that it’s not going to happen under current state leadership.

Gov. Tom Wolf has made his anti-gun feelings obvious during his tenure helming the state. There’s absolutely no way he signs such a bill into law.

Mastriano’s bill is really a campaign promise in legislation form. He’s telling voters what he intends to do in regard to arming teachers in a way where it might actually look like it’ll happen.

And I’m OK with it, so long as there’s a real chance Mastriano can get elected.

Currently, he’s trailing by three points in the polls, which is close enough that we can’t rule him out just yet. However, if he doesn’t win, there’s no way the state is going to enact such a law. His opponent is about as big of a fan of the Second Amendment as Wolf is.

But I actually like where this bill tries to go. It doesn’t mandate anything, which will make it more tolerable for school districts like Philly and Pittsburgh, but doesn’t hamstring rural districts that don’t have the same hoplophobia.

A better option, of course, would be to grant discretion to the teachers and staff themselves, but that’s even less politically popular. Mastriano knows this, which is why the bill is structured the way it is.

However, again, no one in Pennsylvania should hold their breath. So far, there’s no reason to believe this will become law anytime soon.