proposed laws

PA Bill Number: HB2440

Title: Providing for the designation of shooting ranges, sportsman clubs, hunting facilities and business relating to the sale and production of firearms ...

Description: Providing for the designation of shooting ranges, sportsman clubs, hunting facilities and business relating to the sale and production of firear ...

Last Action: Veto No. 16

Last Action Date: Nov 25, 2020

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Delco senators line up against guns in schools :: 07/03/2017

A bill to allow school personnel to bring firearms with them to school as a security measure may have been passed by the state Senate, but senators representing Delaware County unanimously voted against it.

Sens. Anthony Williams, D-8 of Philadelphia, Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, Daylin Leach, D-17 of Upper Merion and Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, all voted no on Senate Bill 383 Thursday. The measure would allow school districts to create a policy permitting teachers and other staff to have access to firearms on school grounds. Personnel would have to maintain a license to carry a concealed firearm and maintain a current and valid certificate from selected training programs in the use and handling of a firearm.

Adopting a policy is not mandatory under this legislation.

The vote split 28-22 with 18 of those no votes from every senator serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. The geographical voting patterns on the bill showed a majority rule by senators representing more rural areas of the state where, perhaps, immediate police response is not as likely as in urban environments to an incident involving a potential dangerous intruder in a school.

Ultimately, local senators do not want guns in schools.

“We don’t need more bullets in a classroom,” said McGarrigle during a Thursday afternoon phone call. “I can’t see where having more bullets is safer … The thing that scares me is having a weapon; we don’t know the security of it (in a school).”

McGarrigle added that teachers are not trained school security officials or law enforcement officers.

Williams echoed such sentiments.

“It doesn’t make a school safer, or children safer, to have those who are quasi-trained in moments of crisis,” he said Friday morning. “It’s better handled by professionals.” Williams also added that there would be a better argument on the bill had he heard from educators in rural environments who may have feel intimidated by a potential dangerous intruder in their buildings.

“They’re trained to educate, that’s their primary responsibility and to take this on… puts them in crisis,” Williams said.

Williams also had a problem with how the bill gives authority to school districts to make decisions on gun rights over municipal ordinances.

On the day of the bill’s passage, Leach read a letter on the Senate floor on behalf of educators who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre who are against arming school personnel and would “never wanted that option” on that fateful day in December 2012.

“It’s completely unrealistic to think that an educator with a gun would have been able to take down the gunman without interfering with law enforcement’s response, or harming or killing other educators, or God forbid, children,” the letter read. “You must understand how fast shootings happen and how chaotic and confusing it is. We had no way to determine from whom and from where the gunfire was coming.”

Leach would provide his own comment on the bill’s passage later on.

“Teachers with guns would not have prevented that shooting, and won’t prevent future shootings. Flaring tempers and honest mistakes are part of daily life in schools, which is why guns shouldn’t be,” read a comment published on his website.

Leach could not be reached for additional comment for this story.

Williams and McGarrigle agreed that teachers and other building staff should be responsible for keeping children safe, and that firearms should be left to professionals who have emergency intervention training.

“They’re teachers they’re not trained security guard or officers... Someone whose been a trained professional that has done police work and knows what they’re doing carrying a firearm I would feel more comfortable with than a teacher with some training,” said McGarrigle.

Guns in schools are only safe when in the hands of proper law enforcement officials or the like said Williams.

Killion could not be reached for comment.