Educators and legislators debate arming teachers in the classroom

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — The solution to solving the problem of mass shootings in schools is a highly debated issue, with solutions coming from many sides.

Some propose more gun control, while others believe allowing teachers to carry a firearm could help them protect themselves and their students.

While the Springettsbury Township Police task force continues to search for a suspect making threats, the president and some state legislators have another solution to stop school shootings, but not everyone is on board with the idea.

President Donald Trump said “we need to let people know, you come into our schools you’re going to be dead, and it’s going to be fast. And unless you do that, you’re going to always have this problem.”

In the week following a deadly school shooting in Florida, and numerous threats made to schools nationwide, Trump offers up a solution to arm teachers.

“If you hardened the sites, you’re not going to have this problem, because these guys who lack courage will never go into those schools,” Trump said.

Pennsylvania State Education Association president Delores McCracken said “there’s a lot of discussion going on in Washington right now about how we should address our national gun laws, and that’s a conversation that I know will continue.”

It’s also been a topic of conversation in Pennsylvania, with Senate Bill 383 reintroduced this session by state senator Don White (R-Indiana County).

The bill proposes to let individual school districts decide if teachers would be allowed to carry a firearm.

State senator Mike Regan said “nothing is more important than the safety and security of our children. Senate Bill 383 will provide local school districts – especially those in rural areas where response times may be slow – with another tool to protect the lives of students and teachers.”

Regan believes the bill is part of a broader and ongoing conversation in Harrisburg, but McCracken isn’t quite sold on the idea.

“We have teachers that probably are qualified to carry a firearm. I’m just not convinced that they would react how you would expect a properly trained law enforcement officer to react,” McCracken said.

McCracken isn’t completely opposed to guns, just not in the hands of a teacher in the classroom.

“Every school should have an armed resource officer. I think that is the norm in many of our high schools, but it’s not the norm in our elementary schools, and we need to protect our students,” McCracken said.

“We do need defense, but we also need offensive capability,” Trump said.

The Pennsylvania House Education Committee is expected to hear SB 383 in March.

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