After much consideration in view of the many recent school shootings, one PA school district is now allowing teachers to come to school packing heat. In October, the Tamaqua Area School District was the first Pennsylvania school district to implement a new policy that allows administrators, teachers, and other employees to possess guns on school property.
The policy does require some regulations be in place to maintain the safety of students. All staff members who wish to carry must be approved by the district’s board. Additionally, staff members are subject to training and certification requirements.
As expected, the decision to allow fire arms on school property has been very controversial. While many support this bold move, other parents are enraged at the new policy. In response, Tamaqua Citizens for Safe Schools Facebook group has created an online petition against the new policy.
While this is the first time, we have seen a school take actual steps towards implementing a firearm policy, this is not the first time this suggestion has been made. Considering recent events involving school shootings, many law makers have suggested such a policy, particularly our President Donald Trump.
Already, PA has seen legislation, that did not pass, drawn up in an attempt to legalize teachers carrying handguns. While there has been so much talk and support for such policies, the reality is that not everyone is happy for change. In addition to parental outrage, many students are also ambivalent about this new policy. Students have jumped on the petition train, trying to derail the school’s plans. Many are concerned this new policy could have the opposite impact and increase violence whether accidently or intentionally.
PA is not the first state to consider such polices. Other states including Texas, Kansas, and Idaho already have policies in place that allow school employees, other than security personnel, to carry guns. While PA is not one of the states that have this legislation, it is not in breach of the law as there are no laws explicitly banning teachers carrying firearms.
Pennsylvania teachers’ unions are not onboard with such policies, again citing the argument that schools would be less safe with an influx of firearms. Although, the teachers’ unions do support the use of armed security guards.
This seems to be the general consensus amongst PA educators. Many are strongly against efforts to legalize firearms for school district personnel. The issue is far from resolved. Tensions continue to mount as lines are drawn in an attempt to protect our nation’s children.