The Pennsylvania state Senate approved a heavily-debated bill allowing qualified teachers to carry firearms at their schools. The bill is meant to ensure safety in the case of active shootings. It was passed Wednesday with a 28-22 “bipartisan vote.”
Senator Don White, who introduced the bill, said, “Time is a critical element when a violent incident occurs in a school. Many schools in rural areas rely on State Police coverage, which means response times can vary. Senate Bill 383 gives trained school personnel the opportunity to serve a first responders.”
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, there have been 229 school shootings since 2013, averaging one shooting per week.
This comes when teachers nationwide are taking precautionary measures to protect students from school shootings in the U.S. The Buckeyes Firearm Association created Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response, or “FASTER,” partnering with parents, officers, and experts, its website says. It trains school employees in firearms use and first aid to respond to violent incidents. Pennsylvania schools already use ALICE training, the acronym for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.”
Sen. White said that Mark Zilinskas, “a mathematics teacher with the Indiana Area School District,” suggested the bill to him after a school stabbing.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will veto the bill according to a statement from his press secretary, who wrote “Harrisburg can help school be safer by giving them adequate funding so schools can hire trained security professionals like school resource or police officers should school professionals feel they need it.”
The bill is going to be reviewed by the Pennsylvania House. White said, “If it becomes law, I will sleep better at night knowing our school districts have more tools at their disposal to fight the unspeakable evil that cause a few in our society to seek to harm our children.”