wagner's pennsylvania press club speech

Wagner Urges Wolf To Call For Special Session On School Safety 

Criticizes Governor’s Inaction While More Students Are Shot

In the wake of the school shooting that occurred in Maryland yesterday, 2018 gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner criticized Governor Wolf for failing to take action to protect Pennsylvania’s children and urged the Governor to call a special legislative session to address the issue. 

“I’m fed up with the inaction of this Governor when it comes to protecting our children,”said Wagner. “How many more incidents like the one that happened in Maryland yesterday have to occur before he stops with the political posturing and starts leading?  I put forward a school safety plan weeks ago, and if the Governor had a sense of urgency it could have been implemented by now. Governor Wolf should immediately call a special legislative session so we can get a school safety bill to his desk that he will sign – not in the summer, not in the late spring, but NOW.”  

Prior to the shooting on Tuesday morning, both Wagner and Governor Wolf discussed their ideas for school safety on KDKA’s radio station. 

Hours before it was reported that an armed resource officer deterred the shooter in Maryland, Wagner spoke about the need to have an armed guard in every school building. 

  • SCOTT WAGNER: We need to make sure that the school buildings themselves are secure – that there are locked doors, that people don’t have access to the school that shouldn’t be there, that’s number one. Number two, I attended a meeting at a school in my Senate district last night in southern York County and they are in the process of hiring a school security officer for each building, and I think that is number two. Secure buildings, have a security officer in the buildings at all times… Parkland was a couple weeks ago and Governor Wolf hasn’t put forth one proposal to make our children safer. And I think he was on your show a couple of weeks ago and he said in an interview that there isn’t much he could do about school safety at the state level and it’s really a federal issue. I absolutely disagree with that statement. (KDKA, 3/20/18)
Governor Wolf defended his school safety task force, arguing that he should be listening, rather than proposing his own solutions. 
  • HOST: Governor, Scott Wagner, who obviously is running for your office on the Republican side said an hour ago and I want to give you an opportunity to respond to this, that a month after Parkland you have done nothing to protect children in schools in Pennsylvania and in fact have said that it is a deferred issue, it is a federal issue not a state issue. I want to give you a chance to respond to that. 
  • GOVERNOR WOLF: Yeah, I don’t remember saying that. Actually, last week I was at the Penn Wynne Elementary School in Lower Merion Township and announced along with the Auditor General a school safety task force that will meet 6 times around the state and will have a report ready for late spring, early summer so that we can actually make sure that we are doing everything we need to do and what more we can do. You know, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State Police have been working for years with local schools and with local law enforcement officials to make sure that the schools have all the resources that they need and are doing what should do to protect their kids. If there’s more to be done this task force will find out. Again, this task force is an attempt to actually listen to what educators, and parents, and students, and law enforcement officials are telling us they think we ought to do. If there is something we ought to do differently we want to respond to that. In the meantime, there is legislation moving forward to actually address certain issues when it comes to gun safety. So there’s a lot that’s going on in the Commonwealth and I just want to make sure we are doing everything we can. And as I say, the focus here is on listening, not telling people what they ought to do. (KDKA, 3/20/18) 
In a speech to the Pennsylvania Press Club in February, Wagner announced a multi-pronged approach to how he would address school safety as Governor. The proposal included the following:
  • An increase in funding for mental health treatment
  • Raising mandatory-minimum sentences for gun-related crimes
  • Putting trained armed security guards in every school
  • Making state money available for school safety initiatives
  • Ensuring thorough background checks are conducted
  • And putting each school through a “high-level” security assessment
  • Mandatory death sentences for school shooters
Talking about school safety shortly after the Parkland shooting, Governor Wolf asserted, “I just don’t understand how a state on its own can do these things. I think these are really federal issues. (KDKA, 2/26/18)