The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday (June 28) that would give school boards the option of allowing licensed and trained staff to carry firearms on school property, according to Senator Dan Laughlin, who voted in support of the measure.
Senate Bill 383, which was approved by a 28-22 bipartisan vote, would allow school personnel to have access to firearms in school safety zones if school districts establish proper guidelines and the employee is licensed to carry a concealed firearm and has met certain training requirements in the use and handling of firearms in a program approved by the State Police. Senate Bill 383 now goes to the House of Representatives.
The bill requires individuals to pass a psychological examination before they would be entrusted with possessing a firearm in school. The amendment also improved transparency by requiring school boards to notify the local hospital and students’ families when they give personnel permission to access firearms in school. It also requires school boards to file a comprehensive firearm safety plan with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the school.
“This bill gives school boards the discretion to allow an employee to keep a firearm in school in order to protect students in the event of a hostile situation. There is no mandate that schools do this. In fact, I doubt that many will elect to exercise this option,” Senator Laughlin said. “There are several specific requirements that must be met before any employee would be entrusted to bring a weapon into a school. This is by no means a simple process, nor should it be.
“However, I believe that giving school boards this option is appropriate, just as I sincerely hope and pray that we never have a situation in which the use of a weapon in any school would be necessary,” Senator Laughlin continued. “We appreciate our law enforcement agencies, but officers cannot be everywhere and response times can be lengthy, particularly in some of the rural areas across the Commonwealth. In times of crisis, those minutes can mean the difference between life and death.”
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