Senate Approves Senator White’s School Safety Bill (VIDEO)

 

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The Senate today (June 28) approved Senate Bill 383, legislation introduced by Senator Don White that would give school boards the option of allowing licensed and trained staff to carry firearms on school property.

SB 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 they are licensed to carry a concealed firearm and have met certain training requirements in the use and handling of firearms in a program approved by the State Police.

“Time is a critical element when a violent incident occurs in a school. Many schools in rural areas rely on State Police coverage, which means response times can vary. Senate Bill 383 gives trained school personnel the opportunity to serve as first responders,” said Senator White. “If it becomes law, I will sleep better at night knowing our school districts have more tools at their disposal to fight the unspeakable evil that causes a few in our society to seek to harm our children.” 

The bill was amended on Tuesday to require 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.

“Taken together, these changes make this a stronger bill and I thank all of my colleagues for their input and support as this process has moved forward,” said Senator White.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Since I first introduced this proposal, there has been much discussion about what the measure does and how it relates to current Pennsylvania law,” Senator White said. “To be clear, this bill is not about the Second Amendment.  It’s about permitting the 500 school districts of this Commonwealth to have greater choices when it comes to protecting our most precious resource – our children.”

Senator White said the measure was proposed to him by Mark Zilinskas, a mathematics teacher with the Indiana Area School District, following a stabbing in the nearby Franklin Regional School District in April 2014.

Contact:          Joe Pittman     jpittman@pasen.gov