Parents, students, and other community members packed a public hearing Monday night to support the decision of Pittsburgh Public Schools board members to oppose any law allowing teachers to carry guns in classrooms.
Board members introduced a resolution opposing any federal or state efforts to arm teachers in school following Trump’s response to recent mass shootings. Board Member Moira Kaleida, wrote the resolution which says the board will, “maintain existing prohibition of firearms at school and will not support any effort to arm educators and support staff.”
Rob Conroy, a gun-control advocate with CeaseFirePA, attended the hearing to thank the board for the policies.
“The Pittsburgh Public School decided to take a brave stance to not only address legislative efforts to place firearms in the hands of teachers inside school walls, they’ve also spoken out on other issues like closing background check loopholes and assault weapons problems,” Conroy said.
Among sensible gun safety legislation the board supports is a list of policies including raising the age to purchase assault weapons to 21 years, implementing enhanced background checks for assault weapons and banning the purchase and sale of assault weapons such as semi-automatic rifles.
After the Parkland shooting in Florida in February, various lawmakers made calls to arm teachers as a way to protect themselves and students from mass shooters. Last year, Pennsylvania lawmakers proposed Senate Bill 383 which would give schools permission to create policies that allow teachers and school personnel to carry firearms on school grounds. The bill passed the PA Senate in June 2017 and is currently sitting in the House for consideration. Governor Tom Wolf previously said he would veto the bill.
“One day my grandchild will be attending one of these schools and I am afraid for him already, he’s only eight months old,” said community member Karen Lyons. “How can I even imagine a child walking into school being addressed by an adult holding a gun? That is terrifying to me.”
Nia Arrington, a recent graduate of CAPA and co-founder of Youth Power Collective, spoke about the recent death of Antown Rose Jr. at the hands of police in East Pittsburgh and how that could affect students of color.
“When you see all these stories of black men and black people dying [at the] hands of police, I think what would happen if that in turn became a system that happened in our schools?” Arrington said. “The resolution is a good start, it’s not enough. If we don’t take a stance on a local level now, we are heading toward a future where kids are going to be killed in schools by officers or teachers.”
Kirsten Wong is a Pittsburgh Current Contributing writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org