Guest editorial… Lawmakers wrong on school safety

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Two state Republican lawmakers are planning to sponsor legislation that would arm teachers and school administrators and have armed guards patrol outside Pennsylvania’s public schools.
State Rep. Greg Lucas, R-Erie, plan to sponsor a bill 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.
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.
Metcalfe said he supports Lucas’ proposal, and oppose the idea of “gun-free school zones” but believes his bill would move more quickly through the Legislature.”
The state Republican lawmakers’ proposals are similar to those of the National Rifle Association, which last month called for armed guards at all American schools in the aftermath of the horrific shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month.
Pennsylvania lawmakers should oppose these proposals.
While both proposals are bad, the idea of arming teaching and school administrators in our public schools is the worse because it increases the chances of students being able to gain access to weapons.
The idea of putting more guns in the state’s more than 3,000 public school buildings spread across 500 districts is a bad idea but it is not a surprise.
This is the same Republican-controlled legislature in Harrisburg and its conservative Democratic gun-rights allies that have repeatedly refused to take any serious actions on reasonable gun control legislation.
The lawmakers who are proposing more armed guards and arming teachers must have forgotten that in the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999 there was an armed guard and a gunman killed 13 people and wounded 29 others in November 2009 at Ford Hood, an Army base in Texas with several well-armed and well-trained soldiers.
Instead of turning our schools into armed fortresses it would be better to ban all assault weapons, 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.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

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