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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 5, 2014 03:27 PM
From: Senator Donald C. White
To: All Senate members
Subject: School Districts Permitting Employees to Access Firearms

I plan to re-introduce legislation (Senate Bill 1193 from last session) to give school boards the authority to allow certain school employees to carry firearms on school property.

In the aftermath of a number of tragic school shootings, there is a debate across the country on how we can better protect our children. While most of this discussion surrounds whether or not more gun control measures are needed, I believe we must look at all options when it comes to improving the safety and security of our children, teachers and school staff.

As we weigh our options, I believe we need to consider providing school employees with more choices than just locking a door, hiding in a closet or diving in front of bullets to protect students. 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.

Because time is a critical element in responding to a school shooting, the faster someone stops a gunman, the more lives will be saved. As the dynamics of school shootings are studied, it is becoming clear that we have to look at a line of first defense in stopping these tragedies.

According to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Pennsylvania’s current law is somewhat ambiguous on this issue. The PA Crimes Code prohibits the possession of a weapon at school, which includes a “firearm, shotgun or rifle.” However, under this section, there is a defense for a weapon that is “possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful purpose. To provide clarification, I will be introducing legislation to allow school personnel to have access to firearms in school safety zones if they receive authorization from the school board of directors, are licensed to carry a concealed firearm and have met certain training requirements in the use and handling of firearms (as outlined in my proposal).

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.

Please contact Anne Achenbach, of my staff, at 787-4404 or at aachenbach@pasen.gov if you have any questions.

Introduced as SB416