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20 April 2017, 09:51 | Anna Nguyen
Journalists Hilary Niles and Paul Heintz at the Statehouse
The Senate Education Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would give school boards the choice to allow staff who are licensed and trained to carry firearms on school property.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's public teachers union, called the bill "misguided" and would not make schools safer.
"It is also important to point out that Senate Bill 383 does not mandate this option, but provides local control to decide if school employees will be permitted to carry firearms on school property", he said.
The legislation would amend current law to prohibit censorship of an American or Pennsylvania historical document based on any religious content.
"We have provisions to have guards, and school resource officers and things like that whose job is the safety of the school", she said.
Donald White of Indiana County, which is more than an hour east of Pittsburgh - wrote before submitting it, "I believe we must look at all options when it comes to improving the safety and security of our children, teachers and school staff".
Opponents of the idea filled the gallery, including someone in a bear costume holding a sign that urged lawmakers to "keep kids safe (and Grizzlies, too)" - a jab at comments made by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos in her confirmation hearing. "What does arming teachers really produce, a safer environment?" A bill (HB 853) that would let beer distributors provide free glassware to bars and restaurants cleared the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Multiple Senators replied that there had been, when Senator White brought forward similar legislation two years ago.
"What do you think cold happen in 40 minutes", White asked. The other three Philadelphia-area Democrats on the committee dissented.
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The proposal heads to the full House after a failed motion to table it for more hearings.
"We're having a hard time handling the amount of hearings we have", Eichelberger said.
"Frankly, I'm stunned", Williams responded.
The hearing was held in a standing room-only room, with many advocates representing the nonprofit, anti-gun violence group Everytown. "No Guns in Schools".
Otto-Eldred School District Superintendent Matthew Splain said he is hoping that the bill is not put on the fast track to approval.
Senate bills 93 and 592 address the somewhat-more-sober topics of dual-enrollment for home-schooled students and posting of employment offers for school administrators.
Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFire PA, said the bill does not guarantee a gun could not get in the hands of a student. He said his bill is similar to laws already on the books in Georgia and SC.
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