RESOLUTION OPPOSING ANY LEGISLATION TO ARM TEACHERS OR SCHOOL PERSONNEL

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association, the oldest association of lawyers in the United States, is committed to protecting the right of Pennsylvania students to attend schools where they are safe and feel safe;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a longstanding history of supporting efforts to reduce gun violence by limiting possession of and public access to semi-automatic assault weapons;

WHEREAS, in the wake of school shootings, some lawmakers have suggested that arming teachers or school personnel with guns would be a positive safety measure;

WHEREAS, proposals to increase the number of weapons in the buildings or on the grounds of a school increase risk to students;1

WHEREAS, increasing the number of armed staff in the buildings or on the grounds of a school sows distrust between students and teachers and school personnel and impairs the creation of a safe, supportive environment conducive to learning;2

WHEREAS, certain law enforcement agencies have opposed proposals to arm teachers or school personnel because having weapons on school grounds is likely to increase the risk of accidental injury or violence at school and having armed school personnel may lead to confusion during active shooter situations that would endanger police and the school community;3

WHEREAS, teachers and school personnel are not trained law enforcement officers, but educators, whose role it is to teach and nurture students;

WHEREAS, even trained law enforcement officers often misperceive people of color and people with disabilities to be safety threats and use force—including deadly force—against them disproportionately;4

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 383, Printer’s No. 1034, would permit school personnel to access firearms on school grounds and would prevent the public from obtaining information or records about the presence of firearms on school grounds through Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act or Right-to-Know Law;

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 1188, Printer’s No. 1811, would permit school personnel to access electronic stun guns on school grounds and would prevent the public from obtaining information or records about the presence of firearms on school grounds through Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act or Right-to-Know Law;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association calls on members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to oppose Senate Bill 383, Printer’s No. 1034; Senate Bill 1188, Printer’s No. 1811; and any other bill that would require or permit teachers or school personnel to possess or access firearms or other potentially deadly weapons in the buildings or on the grounds of a school for any purpose whatsoever, including for the purpose of responding to an emergency.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee to communicate the content of this resolution to members of the General Assembly, the Governor, state and local public officials, other bar associations, and the public at large, and to take such other action as may be appropriate.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: June 28, 2018

1 Indeed, studies show that “for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership, there was a 1.1 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate and a 0.7 percent increase in the total homicide rate.” Evan DeFilippis, Devin Hughes, The Myth of the Good Guy with a Gun Slate, Jan. 25, 2015 http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/01/good_guy_with_a_gun_myth_guns_increase_the_risk_of_homicide_accidents_suicide.html.

2 See End Zero Tolerance Combating the School-To-Prison Pipeline, Arming Teachers and Putting More Armed Cops on Campus Jeopardizes Safety, http://www.endzerotolerance.org/single-post/2018/03/26/Arming-Teachers-and-Putting-More-Armed-Cops-on-Campus-Jeopardizes-Safety.

3 See Brandon E. Patterson, America’s Police Call BS on Arming Teachers, Mother Jones, Mar. 8, 2018, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/03/police-chiefs-call-bullshit-on-arming-teachers-sandy-hook-parkland-columbine/; Max Jaeger, Bratton Rips Trump Over Plan to Arm Teachers, New York Post, Feb. 22, 2018, https://nypost.com/2018/02/22/bratton-rips-trump-over-plan-to-arm-teachers/.

4 See, e.g., Cynthia Lee, Reforming the Law on Police Use of Deadly Force, 2018 U. Ill. L. Rev. 629, 646 (2018); Danielle Barondess, ADApting Policies & Practices: Applying Title II's Reasonable Modifications Requirement to Law Enforcement Interactions with Individuals with Disabilities, 24 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 981, 982–983 (one-third to one-half of the people killed by law enforcement have some form of disability, and law enforcement officers often misinterpret the behavior of people with disabilities with tragic consequences).