Shared from the Doylestown-Buckingham-New Britain, PA PatchPolitics & Government

Bill Allowing Teachers To Carry Guns Passes PA Senate After Emotional Debate

A letter in opposition from Sandy Hook teachers was read during debate. They say they would not have wanted guns that horrible day in 2012.

By Updated June 29, 2017 10:44 am ET

Bill Allowing Teachers To Carry Guns Passes PA Senate After Emotional Debate

HARRISBURG, PA — A bill that allows teachers to carry handguns in Pennsylvania schools was approved Wednesday by the state Senate, following an emotional debate that included a letter of opposition from 15 Sandy Hook teachers who survived a horrific school shooting in December 2012.

Senate Bill 383, also known as the School Safety Bill, was approved 28-22. (See how your representative voted.)

The bill gives teachers the option of carrying concealed firearms on school property and in the classroom. The bill, sponsored by Republican Donald White of the 41st District, would also allow school staff members, like maintenance workers or any administrative employees, to carry firearms.

White said the bill affords schools "greater choices" when it comes to keeping schools safe. He said that the proposal would be especially effective in rural communities, where police response time is slower.

“To be clear, this bill is not about the Second Amendment. It’s about permitting the 500 school districts of this Commonwealth to have greater choices when it comes to protecting our most precious resource – our children," he said in statement when the bill was introduced.

But many others disagree.

Democrat Daylin Leach of the 17th District said the bill would do far more harm then good.

During the floor debate, Leach read a letter from Sandy Hook survivors in opposition to the bill. The 15 surviving teachers who penned the letter said it was "completely unrealistic" and reminded lawmakers that school shootings are "not the movies."

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On the day a gunman stormed into the Newtown, Conn. school, the teachers said "we would have not wanted that option. Nor would it have made us or our students any safer. In fact, it might have made things worse."

(You can see Leach read the full letter below.)

Advocacy group CeaseFirePA released a statement on the bill's passage, saying Pennsylvania should be "ashamed."

"Rather than work on our real problems -- including gun violence, underfunded schools, and a looming budget deadline -- the Senate spent time finding a way to put guns in our public schools," CeaseFirePA said.

Gov. Tom Wolf is opposed to the legislation and has said he will veto it if it comes before him.

Image courtesy Augustas Didžgalvis - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Commons