The gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is leading the fight against a newly-passed bill in the Pennsylvania State Senate, which would allow teachers and other employees to carry firearms in public schools.
The bill passed with a vote of 28-22, with 26 Republicans and two Democrats supporting it. Fourteen Democrats and eight Republicans voted against the bill. The bill now heads to the state's House of Representatives.
The Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action, a group that works with Everytown for Gun Safety, denounced the lawmakers' "recklessness" in passing the bill. The chapter's leader, Deb Marteslo, noted Thursday that the legislation has been met with strong disapproval by the same teachers who would now be permitted to carry guns to school.
"The only people who should be armed in our schools are highly trained members of our law enforcement community or other security professionals. As a longtime educator in Orwigsburg and Camp Hill, I know that the overwhelming majority of my colleagues are opposed to this bill. Instead of heeding the advice of those of us in classrooms, however, state senators have sided with the national gun lobby."
Another educator, Steven Singer, also decried the bill online, noting that he'd prefer the state prioritize reducing class sizes with more funding for public schools, and regulating charter schools, rather than arming school staff.
He also drew attention to conservatives' hypocrisy on allowing guns in certain public and private spaces."
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"You can’t take a firearm with you to visit your Congressperson – or on a tour of the White House."
"Heck! Guns aren’t even welcome at Donald Trump’s political rallies, or most of his hotels, golf courses or other properties. Same at conventions held by the National Rifle Association and the Conservative Political Action Conference."
While Pennsylvania lawmakers who voted for the bill argued that it would allow teachers to protect students from potential mass shootings, the realities of school attacks call into question this argument's validity.
On Thursday, the education historian Diane Ravitch wrote about a shooting that took place last year at an elementary school in Townville, South Carolina. A six-year-old boy was killed after just 12 seconds of gunfire.
"There are states and cities that think the answer to school shootings is to arm teachers. Given the speed of this shooting, no one could have stopped it. Twelve seconds. The teachers, if they were armed, could have shot him, but the child would still be dead."
"This is madness."