More guns in Pa. schools will threaten student safety

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More guns in Pa. schools will threaten student safety

For further information contact:
Chris Lilienthal (717) 255-7134
David Broderic (717) 255-7169

HARRISBURG, PA (June 15, 2022) – Planned legislation from state Sen. Doug Mastriano to put more guns in our public schools will endanger students, school staff, and first responders, PSEA President Rich Askey said today.

Mastriano said recently that he plans to introduce a bill allowing school employees to be armed while on school property provided they possess a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit and undergo a firearms course.

“The problem we have right now is a direct result of people bringing guns into schools,” Askey said. “The last thing we need is more firearms in our classrooms and hallways, creating even more opportunities for students and staff to be injured or killed.

“There is no question that arming educators or other school staff will put students, staff, and first responders at greater risk in a crisis. Teachers, counselors, and support staff are experts in educating and caring for our students, not in using firearms in dangerous situations.

“It took dozens of highly trained and armed officers in bulletproof vests nearly an hour to end the massacre in Uvalde, Texas — and Doug Mastriano expects our librarians and kindergarten teachers to step into that dangerous role and do better?

“PSEA is for strategies that keep students safe. Arming school staff members doesn’t keep students safe. That’s why we oppose it.”

This plan would also create more problems for first responders, Askey noted.

“First responders arriving at the scene of an armed confrontation will have a much more difficult time immediately distinguishing a perpetrator from a school employee with a gun,” Askey said.

Askey said it was particularly troubling to hear a call for arming teachers from Mastriano who has previously voiced support for cutting per pupil spending in Pennsylvania’s public schools by half.

“Mastriano’s vision for our public schools is to employ half as many educators and support staff, provide half as many learning opportunities for students, and provide half the safety resources our schools need,” Askey said. “The results would be disastrous for our schools — larger class sizes, worse educational outcomes for students, and greater safety risks.”

Askey noted that PSEA does not oppose the use of appropriately trained and armed school safety personnel in schools, such as school safety officers. These professionals have the training and experience to respond in a crisis.

“We are all shocked and horrified by the recent mass shootings that have occurred in public schools across America, in places where students should feel safest,” Askey said. “PSEA is committed to working with our elected leaders to find ways to ensure that these tragedies never happen again.”

Askey is the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 178,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.