Let Teachers Carry Guns, Say 2 Pa. Lawmakers

Two GOP lawmakers want Pennsylvania teachers and school administrators to carry guns to make schools safer

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – Armed guards may soon patrol outside Pennsylvania’s public schools, and the teachers may be armed, as well.

A pair of Republican lawmakers in the state House are working on legislation to make Pennsylvania schools safer.  But while all sides agree on the need to improve school safety, some worry about bringing guns into schools, regardless of the lawmakers’ intent.

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State Rep. Greg Lucas, R-Erie, plans to sponsor legislation that would make it legal for teachers and school administrators to carry weapons in the classroom, provided they are licensed to carry a firearm and have valid and current certification under state law.

As we consider ways to improve school safety, I believe we have to consider trusting school personnel to serve as a first line of defense. We trust them to protect our children every day. I think we need to offer them the tools to carry out that sacred trust,” Lucas wrote in a memo being circulated among members of the state House this week.

Pennsylvania has more than 3,000 public school buildings spread across 500 school districts.

Lucas, who was sworn-in to his first term in office Tuesday, said the bill is personal.

In 1998, a student in Lucas’ hometown of Edinboro brought a gun to a school dance and opened fire, killing one and wounding two others. The body count could have been higher, Lucas said, if not for the intervention of an armed citizen, who used his own gun to stop the shooter.

Students and school employees would be safer if guns were allowed in schools, he said Wednesday.

“I think it’s our duty and responsibility to protect our children, and this is one way of doing it,” Lucas told PA Independent on Wednesday.

The National Rifle Association last month called for armed guards at all American schools in the aftermath of the horrific shooting in Connecticut last month. The pro-gun rights lobby suggested using retired police officers and other volunteers.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told MSNBC last month the NRA’s proposal was a “completely dumb-ass idea.”

Clearly, Lucas comes from a different perspective. He is a proud gun owner who has worked as an instructor for the NRA. The NRA endorsed Lucas when he successfully ran for office in November.

He was formerly a teacher and is married to a public school teacher. If people are allowed to carry guns for self-defense in most other settings, he says, the same rules should apply to schools.

Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, which advocates gun control, said Wednesday that arming teachers gives her pause.

As a parent, she worries about accidents in the classroom, but also about how students might be able to gain access to those weapons.

I don’t think it is a one-step solution,” Goodman said. “Are you introducing a gun into a situation where it could do more harm than good?

Goodman said it would be better to have more extensive background checks for all guns and for the purchase of ammunition, and to require residents to report lost and stolen guns to law enforcement.

Lucas said teachers who chose to be armed would likely be required to keep their weapons locked inside a desk or a safe during the school day.

But Lucas isn’t the only lawmaker looking to increase security at Pennsylvania’s schools.


State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, chairman of the House State Government Committee, plans to introduce legislation that would allow school districts to hire retired police officers and others with law-enforcement experience to guard schools.

Schools would be allowed to hire people who have completed training to be a municipal police officer in Pennsylvania, graduates of the Pennsylvania State Police Academy and those who had completed other, similar law-enforcement training programs.

Under current law, it is unclear what qualifications are sufficient for that purpose, Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe said he supports Lucas’ proposal, and opposes the idea of “gun-free school zones,” but believes his bill would move more quickly through the Legislature.

“Going farther than that right now, I’m not sure we could get it passed quickly, and this is something that we should move ahead with quickly,” he said.

Goodman said more armed security isn’t necessarily the best way to prevent future school massacres.  She said a gunman killed 13 people and wound 29 others in November 2009 at Fort Hood, an Army base in Texas with plenty of well-armed, well-trained soldiers.

Several other bills dealing with guns and school safety are expected to be introduced in the early days of the new legislative session  Notably, state Rep. Ron Waters, D-Philadelphia, has announced his intention to introduce an assault weapons ban in Pennsylvania.

Shortly after the Connecticut shootings, Gov. Tom Corbett gave little indication he was interested in such a ban.  He argued that it would be ineffective when so many guns are already available.

Goodman said she hoped lawmakers, early in the new session, would approve legislation linking Pennsylvania to the national background check system for gun purchases.

Melissa Dougherty January 10, 2013 at 02:01 PM
@Ronnie .. the reason why it sounds like the tables are turned is because they are... My point is this .. yes all scenarios are a possibility... major or minor ... And I just want to remind you that I am for guns in the school (I have changed my mind earlier after reading others important points) , I'm just thinking less is better than a whole slew. So with that being said... Here's the other side of the table... You and others saying it would be safer for teachers to carry.. saying it makes sense for them to carry on their person. To.me, that creates a danger within itself... Sure grade school kids couldn't do much, what about grown teenagers, who are built or just intelligent, that they could disarm the TEACHER .. and now we've created the exact scenario we were trying to prevent. This is my concern.
Melissa Dougherty January 10, 2013 at 02:02 PM
That and a teacher "snapping" .. granted, it doesn't happen often, but they are people too ... Or a carrying teacher passing out in class from illness ... Now they are defenseless to a student trying to obtain their weapon. And with everyone telling me its safer for this reason or that (which it might be) however... There are doors of troubling scenarios that open up with many people carrying, but again...if you're telling me its for my better good and something goes wrong from within, then yes, I will be incredibly infuriated if my child was hurt, its one thing to be in the middle of a bad guy situation and an innocent getting hurt by teacher and another for it to be a regular day and someone over powers the "trained" teacher or accidental fire or carrying teacher passing out, because in this situation the very thing you are telling me is there to protect my child, kills my child. someone will pay for that in one wag or another...That's why I'm saying only the principal and vice principal should have access. After proper training and psych evals. And it should be done annually . And yes... I actually thought you were standing in your yard with a "half cocked" gun ..responding on patch.
Ronnie DelBacco January 10, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Melissa, At least you do have a sense of humor. :) I guess then the Principal and Vice principal are both exempt form "passing out". Also, trained security, police, and military are also exempt from "passing out". It troubles me that you think the worst in our children right off the bat. You're assuming that the first thing that would take place if a teacher who carries passes out is that a bad kid will go for his gun. I contend there are classrooms full of good students who wouldn't. I understand the need to cover all the bases, but there just is no way to plan for every possible scenario. I don't worry about my daughter taking my gun off my hip if I pass out. In fact, she knows exactly what to do if I am incapacitated for some reason. I'll bet there are many kids out there who shoot with their parents, know the safety procedures, and would instinctively act in that responsible manner. I'm not for any extra background checks, beyond those already in place, which would discriminate against one profession over another, like psych evals for teachers who carry. I would agree to psych evals for every teacher just because.
Chris Miller January 10, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Melissa Apparently you are truly in favor of doing absolutely nothing on this issue because you are scared that something migh happend to the good guys and then something will happen to the kids. Do you honestly believe that your kids would be better off going to school in the same condition as Sandy Hook. Let me suggest that you volunteer to be come one of the guards in the school or put a group together to discuss what you want to do to make your studnets safe. Maybe the PTO would be wlling to discuss this. Or you could hire a group to lay out a security plan. if we follow you at this moment we would be getting absolutely no where on the issue. You can either get on board and do something or you can continue to wring you hands and watch it happen again.
Bob Linney January 10, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Ronnie D, Where are you getting your statistics? The US Dept of Transportaion reports that 2012 data for fatalities in vehicle accidents is <34,000/yr. That is approx. 100 deaths per day, not "Thousands" (i.e. >2,000). So, you are off by a factor of >20. And please site a reference for what seems to be an unbelievable high "hammer murder rate." If true, there should be sharpshooters at vo-tech schools to prevent blood baths from all the hammers, screw drivers, and God knows how many other "tool-weapons" the students have at hand.
JBW1984 January 10, 2013 at 03:02 PM
As a teacher myself I find it hard to say both yes or no on this topic. A stroll through the halls of a lot of neighboring districts will reveal how docile Nazareth is so it's easy to overlook the possible consequences of having armed teachers in the classroom. I'm sure in a city setting, once the word spreads about teachers carrying weapons (conceled or not) there will be the students who may even go as far as attacking a teacher to get ahold of a gun. Even teachers have to admit that not all teachers are good teachers or have the same morals as you and I. What happens when the first teacher draws the gun out of a fit of rage or pure insanity... There are a lot of teacher layoffs lately (ask the 400+ from my district) so is it possible when someone finds out they are losing a job, that they lose their ability to think rationally and end up using their conceled weapon on an administrator? However...... if I were given the choice to go through a background check and carry a weapon I would. That's only because I know that I won't lose the ability to think rationally or ever be in a situation where I'd consider pulling a gun on a student. I'd carry because I know to stand a chance against an intruder, you need to be able to fight back. What's the answer? Well there is no right or wrong or good way to go about getting it done. How would we raise taxes to pay for security guards? Should teachers have to be security guards besides their everyday duties of teacher (and often parent)
JBW1984 January 10, 2013 at 03:05 PM
and it's really scary to think about the fact that we've come to a time in history where we have to even think about sending our children to school with armed teachers just to be safe....
Melissa Dougherty January 10, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Chris and Ronnie... You guys are all over me about debating on what "might happen"... But 99% of the time ..99% of people...99% of places are safe... So it'd on the 1% chance that a deranged shooter will come in to your school that has your rational,extremist thinking to claim we should now put 100 guns in the hands of a 100 teachers in every school everywhere ... So why is your 1% thinking better than my 1% thinking??
Melissa Dougherty January 10, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Ronnie .. of course they can pass out... The difference is that a tactical team or police is a buddy system of sorts ..that if the situation allows , the other buddy or team come to his aid immediately...where as a teach is out numbered 25 or more to 1 and ALONE. No I don't think the worst of our kids...however if there weren't rotten ones out there...we wouldn't be having this conversation.
Chris Miller January 10, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Melissa Who said anything about 100 guns in the hands of 100 teachers? I don't think that came off my computer. You might want to consider going to some NRA classes and learning ow to shoot. Of course if Obama comes for our guns, well we won't have to worry about any of that will we. You better be paying attention to what is going on with the 2nd Amendment and the man in the White House whom I suspect you voter for in November.
Ronnie DelBacco January 10, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Melissa, I never said my thinking is better than yours. I want to find a good solution as much as you do. Ideology on both sides is very strong. James Walter, a teacher, just posted. I think we need to sit back and hear more from them, rather than fight back and forth about what WE think they should do. Another option I heard that sounded good was armed National Guard doing rotations outside schools. That would be a state decision, teachers don't need to carry, and our local enlisted could truly serve right in their own communities.
Ronnie DelBacco January 10, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Bob Linney, Here's one of the "hammer" links http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/03/FBI-More-People-Killed-With-Hammers-and-Clubs-Each-Year-Than-With-Rifles On the traffic deaths, I meant annually. Thanks for the correction.
Chris Miller January 10, 2013 at 03:28 PM
James Are you Mellissa's brother? If your school should decide to do this then voice your concerns and assist the group in setting up protections for your students. Our society is a mess. Our religion and our morals have gone into the trash can. We have no decent dress codes in our schools. We have parents who do not parent. We have parents and kids getting drunk or drugged up together. We have people who believe they shoule be living off the rest of us. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY WE HAVE NO CONCERN FOR HUMAN LIFE EVIDENT BY THE FACT THAT WE HAVE KILLED TENS OF MILLIONS OF CHILDREN. Wake up and look around you. We are in trouble and let me tell you it is going to get worse then it is. Maybe you want to be part of the soliution or maybe you want to sit on your ass and do nothing.
Chris Miller January 10, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Mr. Linney www.USAcoverage,com, and insurance company notes that 43,000 Americans die on a yearly basis in vehicular accidents.When do we start banning cars the most powerful weapon many of us have in our hands. Are we going to eliminate cars, trucks and more.
Dave Rex January 10, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Ronnie DelBacco, you are wrong. Hammers do not kill more people than guns. I checked the FBI statistics. You have completely bastardized the FBI data. The 2011 FBI crime data reveals that 496 persons were killed using either hammers or clubs, while 323 persons were killed using RIFLES and 356 persons were killed using SHOTGUNS. That's 679 persons killed using rifles or shotguns and that number goes up dramatically--well into the thousands--once handguns are brought into the count. Have you been involved in a lot of firefights? Just curious.
Melissa Dougherty January 10, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Chris.. First.. "100" was not in the lliteral sense... just meaning you want to put lethal weapons in the hands of many teachers... Second.. I don't know what you're reading but i never said anything about banning guns... In fact I am for guns and the 2nd amendment and have stated it many a time on here... I did NOT vote for obama.. i despise him... So please do not attack me in that way.. I have been very polite and courteous with my opinion and how i am trying to present them.. i would hope you would do the same. And to Ronnie... Thank you! Thank you for understanding my fears. I am an emotional parent trying to rationally think this out... as well are most of you.. I just feel that there has to be a happy medium between doing nothing and many teachers having guns. That's all.. not trying to take anyones freedoms away.
Dave Rex January 10, 2013 at 04:44 PM
I did look it up and you are absolutely wrong. Again--per 2011 FBI data--hammers or clubs were used to kill 496 persons. Rifles were used to kill 323 persons. Shotguns were used to kill 356 persons. That's 679 deaths before we add in deaths from handguns.
Melissa Dougherty January 10, 2013 at 04:49 PM
No I don't know him... But i'm glad some one else is one my side , sorta speak. Go James!! :)
Ronnie DelBacco January 10, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Dave Rex, To clarify, I was only talking about hammers vs. rifles. My bad. That was the discussion since the Sandy Hook killer used a rifle. The "assault weapons" ban mostly deals with rifles. Sorry for the confusion. I crossed conversation points there.
Parkland Parent January 12, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Amazing how clueless some people are. Sure, let all the teachers carry firearms, let's start with the kindergarten teachers. Then when a teacher loses it one day, we will blame that. Arm everyone! Seniors, kids, teachers, dogs, cats and even hamsters!
Chris Miller January 12, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Mr. or Mrs. Parkland. What type of people are you hiring at Parkland? Do you really believe that schools would not perform a background check on their staff. I wouls also note that you probably would not get a lot of teachers to put themselves out there as potentially armed citizens who would stand up to a bad guy who is intent on killing someone, maybe your child. Does anyone stop and think any more prior to opening one"s mouth
Ben January 13, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Yes, I'm sure a teacher who "loses it" and plans to go on a killing spree will stop and think "oh wait, I'm not allowed to have guns in school". And you claim the ones who want to make sure the children are protected are the clueless ones. Right.
Chris Miller January 14, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Ben Whhy do you continue to point out that schools are filled with mentally illied individuals.
careless fills January 14, 2013 at 01:14 AM
A background check wouldn't discover hidden mental illnesses or ones problems that occur after the initial check. If a teacher who "loses it" is the only person with a gun, there'll be no one to stop her.
Ben January 14, 2013 at 01:15 AM
I'm not sure you understood my comment. My point was that if a teacher is likely to snap and go on a killing spree, labeling the school a gun-free zone is not going to stop him, so we might as well allow competent individuals to carry weapons for protection. I wasn't insisting that schools are full of mentally ill individuals.
Chris Miller January 14, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Ben My apologies and I agree with what you say on school free zones. It was probably the fact that a number of people made comments on teachers having a bad day, falling to pieces and shoting the kids
ZachMiller January 15, 2013 at 04:23 AM
Absolutely correct. I was in the military for years, and I can tell you, NOBODY is armed on a military post except for the MP's. I lived at Fort Stewart in Georgia, and I had weapons, but I can assure you, I was not aloud to carry them for any reason. These soldiers were sitting ducks. After Fort Hood, I started keeping my gun in my car, despite it being against regulation, and technically illegal. The bases have lousy security, cars aren't searched. Only those that follow the rules are disarmed on base.
ZachMiller January 15, 2013 at 04:26 AM
Psychological testing for firearm carry? You must be thinking of Australia, or England. This is America Mr. Jamison. Teachers who believe that they can competently use a firearm to defend themselves and the children, and who have a desire to do so, should be allowed this right, as is any American citizen, in most public locations.
ZachMiller January 15, 2013 at 04:30 AM
Arming teachers is an awful idea. Let the teachers be armed, who are already armed outside of school, consider themselves competent in the use of a weapon, and have a desire to carry one in defense of their students.
John Donches March 04, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Just to let everyone know that there will be a presentation at Fire Company #1 in Emmaus on “Gun Rights” Tuesday, March 19th @ 7:30 PM. Click on the highlight to go to the Flyer and info sheet on this event. We at C.E.P.T.A. invite everyone to attend and come prepared to ask your questions. http://ceptapa.wordpress.com


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