In a response to the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, Republican candidate for governor Doug Mastriano is proposing legislation to permit employees to conceal carry in Pennsylvania schools. In his co-sponsorship memoranda, the Franklin County state senator wrote, “I will be introducing a bill to enhance the safety of children and staff while on school property. (The bill) will allow school employees who possess a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit to be armed while on school property. An employee who wishes to carry a firearm on school property will also be required to complete a rigorous firearms course from a certified instructor with a signed certificate showing completion of a training and proficiency course for the firearm the employee intends to carry on school grounds.” According to the Crime Prevention Resource Center, 29 states presently have statutes on the books that teachers or school staff can be armed while on school property with Ohio becoming the most recent in June. “The problem we have right now is a direct result of people bringing guns into schools,” Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said. “The last thing we need is more firearms in our classrooms and hallways, creating even more opportunities for students and staff to be injured or killed. “There is no question that arming educators or other school staff will put students, staff, and first responders at greater risk in a crisis. Teachers, counselors, and support staff are experts in educating and caring for our students, not in using firearms in dangerous situations. “It took dozens of highly trained and armed officers in bulletproof vests nearly an hour to end the massacre in Uvalde, Texas — and Doug Mastriano expects our librarians and kindergarten teachers to step into that dangerous role and do better?” Mastriano added that mass murderers are often attracted to “soft targets” where they know victims are not armed. “According to the Crime Prevention Resource Center, there has not been a single mass shooting in a school where staff were clearly allowed to carry a firearm.” Senate Bill 1288 would not be a mandate but would give school staff the ability to be a last line of defense if they choose. “(Askey) believes that, even if a school employee has been trained, permitted, and certified, they should not have the ability to defend students in a worse-case life and death scenario,” said Mastriano. “Mr. Askey is dead wrong.” Senate Bill 1288 has been referred to the Senate Education committee, chaired by Scott Martin (R-Lancaster). Mastriano is one of six GOP members on the nine-member committee.