Bill would allow guns in schools
Teachers and school personnel across the Commonwealth could be packing a lot more than a lunch when they head to school.
State Rep. Greg Lucas, Edinboro (R-5), says school children are “sitting ducks” and plans to introduce legislation allowing teachers and administrators to complete training similar to law enforcement officers to carry guns into the classroom.
“This is about trusting our teachers to protect students,” Lucas said in a press release Monday. “We trust our teachers with our students’ minds. However, current law prevents them from defending our children’s bodies during an emergency situation. My law would change that.”
Lucas was sworn into his first term last Tuesday and was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in the general election. The two-page proposed legislation available on his website, www.replucas.com, is called the “School Personnel Right to Carry Act” that he says would not require teachers, principals, administrators or other personnel to carry a firearm.
Lawmakers across the country have announced or have already introduced similar legislation in Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Florida. Representatives from Texas and Kentucky introduced bills that would end federal law requiring areas around schools be designated as gun free zones.
There is no information about how much the proposed legislation would cost to implement or what guidelines personnel would have to follow other than notifying the school district and obtaining a reference from the sheriff.
School personnel who would like to carry a gun into the school would have to pass a “three-point check system.”
According to the proposed legislation, personnel would be required to “provide copies of his or her license to carry a firearm and required additional certification”; “require a professional employee to immediately notify the school entity if any of the following applies: he or she becomes ineligible to possess a firearm; his or her license to carry a firearm or required additional certification expires or is suspended or revoked; require a professional employe to follow reasonable guidelines, not inconsistent with the purposes of this section, concerning accessibility, transportation and storage of firearms on school property.”
Lucas said in the press release that teachers would have to pass a background check that is already in place as a condition of employment and the additional background check would include “investigation of character and reputation by their local sheriff.”
“In order to qualify, a teacher would have to acquire the same certification in the use of firearms currently used by law enforcement officers,” he said in the press release.
Lucas told the Erie Times-News that teachers would keep their guns inside a fingerprint-activated desk or a safe during the day.
The bill was motivated by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine High School in Colorado and the murder of a local teacher, he said.
“Things like that didn’t happen 30 years ago, 40 years ago,” he told the Times-News. “Forty years ago, people messed up went into the woods and shot themselves in the head. Now they’re going into schools and want to take 30 innocent people down with them.”
State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-65) said she wants to hear from educators and district personnel and “certainly would want to gather information locally as to how comfortable the administrators and teachers would feel before I would commit to voting yes on the bill.”
“I think it’s an interesting concept, I’m definitely pro Second Amendment and certainly support the right to bear arms,” she said. “I truly believe it’s not the gun that is killing the person, it’s the person who is holding the gun.”
Rapp also said it’s time to look beyond gun control and ask why acts of violence are committed, saying the country has “strayed from principles and values of the nation” and “if we don’t live by those values anymore I believe this is the consequence.”
“It is something I’d really like to hear from in the 56th legislature how they feel on this type of legislation,” Rapp said.
Warren County School District Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel and Warren County Education Association President Claudia Solinko were not available for comment on Tuesday.