This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
A school district near Allentown recently, and rather quietly, became Pennsylvania’s first to pass a policy permitting teachers to carry guns in schools.
But a backlash has since developed, setting up a showdown over whether guns have a place in Pennsylvania schools that could set a precedent for the state.
In September, the Tamaqua Area School District in Schuylkill County revised a policy to explicitly allow “administrators, teachers, or other employees” to have guns on school district property, so long as they meet certain training and certification requirements.
The policy itself says little about implementation, but school board member Nicholas Boyle said he and others envision a program in which, at any given time, about three unidentified staffers in each school carry concealed weapons. Boyle thinks the initiative would give schools in this largely rural district a better chance of fighting off an attacker and also act as a deterrent.
“Nobody really knows who’s carrying, so the security guard or police officer wouldn’t be targeted first,” Boyle said.
Not everyone is convinced, though, and skeptics have set up a Facebook group about the proposed change. Those skeptics include the head of the local teachers’ union and a chorus of parents.