Our opinion: Tough choice on arming educators

It is likely the only way Sen. Doug Mastriano’s legislation to allow school teachers and employees to carry a gun in school is if he wins election as governor in November.

There is little chance Gov. Tom Wolf would sign such legislation before the end of the year, and it’s doubtful Josh Shapiro would sign the bill next year if he beats Mastriano in the November election to determine Wolf’s successor.

It’s important, however, to know what this bill is and isn’t.

Senate Bill 1288 is not a requirement for teachers and school employees to carry a weapon. It is not a requirement for teachers or school employees to use a weapon. It is not a requirement for each and every teacher or school employee to be trained to carry or use a weapon. Mastriano’ s bill would merely give teachers and school employees the ability to carry a weapon on school grounds. That’s it.

In our opinion, we’d prefer that choice be left to school boards to opt into such a program after having adequate public discussion rather than leaving it up to individual teachers. Schools in bigger cities like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or Erie have much different circumstances than schools in Warren County, and Mastriano’s bill places the ball solely in the teacher or school employee’s court rather than the district and taxpayers.

We don’t know if allowing teachers or school employees to be armed would help prevent a mass shooting at a school in Warren County. But school districts should be given the choice — including the choice to require more training than required in Senate Bill 1288.

In our opinion, Senate Bill 1288 shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, and the discussion shouldn’t fall into the familiar old tropes that all guns are evil or that every conceal carry license holder will respond like Dirty Harry.


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