Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, takes part in a state Senate committee hearing at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Marc Levy) Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, takes part in a state Senate committee hearing at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

The Republican candidate for governor plans to introduce a bill that would allow school employees to carry guns on school grounds.

Last week, eight of Pennsylvania’s Republican congressmen voted against raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle. One week later, Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano is talking about arming teachers. 

Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, plans to introduce legislation that would allow school employees who possess a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit to be armed while on school property. They would be required to complete a firearms course from a certified instructor first.

In a memo introducing the legislation, Mastriano referenced last month’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman shot 19 children and two teachers to death. 

“Mass murderers are often attracted to “soft targets” where they know victims are not armed,” Mastriano wrote in his bill memo. 

The proposed bill comes days after Ohio passed similar legislation. Currently, 28 states allow teachers or school staff to be armed while on school property.

While Mastriano touts school safety as the driving force behind his proposed legislation, Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the proposal wouldn’t do anything to actually address the issue. He said that allowing school staff to bring more guns into school is a dangerous proposition.

“This proposed legislation is nothing short of outrageous,” said Askey. “The concept of bringing more guns to solve this crisis is totally off base. What you’re doing is putting students, staff, and first responders into a very dangerous situation.”

Mastriano’s gubernatorial opponent, Democrat Josh Shapiro, said he wants to put mental health counselors in every school, implement universal background checks, and utilize stronger red flag laws to address gun safety and schools.

A recent Suffolk University/USA Today poll shows Shapiro with a slight four-point advantage over Mastriano in the race for governor (44% to 40%).