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Pennsylvania teachers could carry guns under Senate bill

Pennsylvania teachers could carry guns under Senate bill

The state Senate Education Committee on Wednesday approved Bill 383, which now goes for a vote in the full Senate.

Senate Bill 303 sponsor Sen. SB 383 would not mandate that schools participate; however, it gives school boards across the Keystone State the ability to establish policies and certain protocols to allow staff to carry concealed firearms. "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". It quickly drew the ire of Gov. "The maker of the bill has said he's willing to have a hearing". "If they don't want it, fine".

"To be concise, PDE's opinion is that the scope of "lawful purpose" is unclear and unsettled, especially as it relates to school employees and parents (or citizens) possessing a weapon on school property", Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera said in a letter addressed to White dated June 2016.

"It looked like a butcher house; there was blood everywhere", White said, recalling his police escort through the crime scene at the school in his district. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, said North Carolina is one of only five states that doesn't have some type of provision requiring left-lane drivers to move over when other drivers are seeking to pass them. Williams then asked White if he would be open to another hearing. "I shudder to think".

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But Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters of PA, an advocacy based in Cumberland County, said she is anxious about unintended - or deadly consequences - the bill could cause. She pointed to an incident in Chambersburg previous year in which a teacher at a private school left her loaded gun in the bathroom.

"At least four children ages 6 to 8 used that bathroom stall while her loaded gun was left there, unattended, for three hours", Spicka said. "We believe public schools must be safe places for students and want to protect them from danger". He said his bill is similar to laws already on the books in Georgia and SC.

Sen. White wrote the problem is "The PA Crimes Code is unclear on the possession of a weapon at school, which includes a 'firearm, shotgun or rifle.' 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 goal". The scope of the law regarding "other lawful purpose" is not clearly defined on whether school employees can or can't carry in schools. Schools also are required by law to have written agreements with local or state police about the chain of command when an armed incident occurs on school grounds.

Governor Tom Wolf has already said he would veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

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He added, "Harrisburg can help schools be safer by giving them adequate funding so schools can hire trained security professionals", and noted Wolf supports increasing funding for the Education Department's Safe Schools Initiative.

"For the safety of all in our schools, only trained security officers/school police/staff member (in the absence of a security officer) should carry firearms", he said. SB 273 would seek to strip state grant funding from so-called "sanctuary campuses", while SB 88 would amend the state's school code to prevent public schools from censoring "historically significant documents" - specifically any religious references or endorsements.

However, Dr. Brian Toth, St. Marys Area School District superintendent, disagrees with the bill.

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Despite recreational marijuana's all but certain future status as legal, Blair said "pot pardons" are not under consideration. However, Canada's provinces and territories, which under the constitution have regulatory powers, can set a higher legal age.


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