Last year, Pike County Sheriff Philip Bueki served on an advisory committee of the Joint State Government Commission, helping to craft recommendations to make schools safer from violent crime.
Appointed by the Pennsylvania Senate, a report was competed and issued in December. Bueki told the County Commissioners Jan. 15th that he re-wrote 15 laws that will go before the Senate for a vote in a couple months. Senator Lisa Baker had asked him to serve on the committee.

  Last year, Pike County Sheriff Philip Bueki served on an advisory committee of  the Joint State Government Commission, helping to craft recommendations to make schools safer from violent crime.
    Appointed by the Pennsylvania Senate, a report was competed and issued in December. Bueki told the County Commissioners Jan. 15th that he re-wrote 15 laws that will go before the Senate for a vote in a couple months. Senator Lisa Baker had asked him to serve on the committee.
   Major changes are expected affecting mental health laws, school safety and the Firearms Act, while respecting the constitutional right to bear arms."We hold the Second Amendment dear to our hearts," Bueki said. The public was fearful that the government would confiscate their guns, he said. "This shows that is not true," he said of the report.
    Some very old laws had to be updated. There is one still on the books from 1840 that says an armed robber, once convicted, has 60 days to turn in his gun. The Sheriff said this would not work today. The committee recommends reducing this to 72 hours.
   Teachers, he added, overwhelmingly do not want to be armed. The Advisory Committee strongly advises against arming teachers.
   While the Advisory Committee supports schools that choose to hire police officers or school resource officers (SRO), the Advisory Committee strongly opposes arming school administrators, teachers or
other non-law enforcement personnel.
   Pennsylvania law relies on a background check to obtain a firearm that looks at Juvenile, Mental Heath and Criminal records. Some states, he said, are not as thorough as Pennsylvania.
  Bueki, with the rest of the committee, worked on all of the recommendations but his primary input was in the realms of school safety, firearm laws and school bullying.
  With approximately 30- 40 professionals serving on the committee, Bueki said he was the only sheriff. There were persons representing different fields that may easily contribute to the debate over school safety. Bueki said it was an amazing committee which was able to work together with the safety of school children in mind. They met for a year, first with monthly meetings and then sessions twice a month, and telephone conference calls.
    The committee was organized in the wake of recent school shootings.
    Sheriff Bueki served as the first school resource officer in northeast Pennsylvania in 1985, when as Deputy Sheriff, was helping at Delaware Valley School District. From there he has assisted school districts at Delaware Valley, East Stroudsburg and Wallenpaupack establish SRO programs. For 10 years he also ran an academy at Harrisburg focusing on the SRO program and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program used in schools.
  The Sheriff commented that already the rumor is out that he is working against gun ownership, but said this was blatantly untrue.  He said this perception comes from not reading the report. "I am very pro-gun and pro-2nd Amendment," he said. These recommended changes to the laws, he said, protect gun rights while make it tougher for criminals. He said he was vert proud of the work the committee accomplished and was certain gun and sports clubs will be "very happy."
   The entire report is available online as a .pdf, at .The committee's summary of recommendations is also listed at



 The Advisory Committee on Violence Prevention has made numerous recommendations, which are summarized below and discussed in detail in the substantive chapters of this report addressing each issue.  Included below are cross-references to the page of the report containing the background and rationale for the recommendations.

Media Recommendations
Recommendation #1:  To the extent possible, it is important to deny
notoriety and celebrity status to perpetrators of violence. (p. 63)  
Recommendation #2:  Consistent with the foregoing recommendation, news
media should exercise discretion in their reporting of violent incidents to
ensure that public safety is maintained and police investigations are not
jeopardized during coverage of an ongoing incident. (p. 64)  
Recommendation #3:  Parents and guardians should take a more active role
in screening and limiting children’s exposure to media violence. (p. 65)  
Recommendation # 4:  While a direct causal link between violent video
games and violent behavior has not been established to date, the question of
a potential correlation between simulated violence and aggressive behavior
remains unresolved.  Further evidence-based research on the possible
effects of exposure to media violence should be encouraged.  (p. 66)
Mental Health Recommendations
Recommendation #5:   The Mental Health Procedures Act (MHPA) should
be thoroughly reviewed to determine whether to amend involuntary
commitment standards to assure greater access to treatment or to add
alternatives to treatment, such as assisted outpatient treatment. (p. 70)
Recommendation #6:  Additional education and training, which promotes
mental health awareness and early intervention should be provided to
individuals (such as laypersons, first responders and law enforcement
personnel) who come in contact with individuals who are mentally ill,
developmentally disabled, or otherwise impaired, and should be made part
of continuing education curricula. (p. 70)  

Recommendation #7:  Additional funding for community mental health
services is desperately needed.  Insurance coverage parity for mental
disorders should continue and Medicaid expansion funds available under
federal law should be provided for more community mental health services.
(p. 71)  
Recommendation #8:  People should be encouraged to prepare mental
health advance directives and/or mental health powers of attorney so that
they may exercise control over the course of their treatment when they are
in crisis and otherwise incapable of making rational choices.  Further,
hospitals and members of the medical community should inquire as to the
existence of these documents with the same regularity with which inquiries
into the existence of living wills occur. (p. 72)  
Recommendation #9:  Pennsylvania should codify its existing duty to warn,
currently found in case law, into a statutory requirement delineating the
need and limits of a duty to protect. (p. 73)  
Responsible Gun Ownership Recommendations
Recommendation #10.   Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act contained in
Chapter 61 of Title 18 is difficult to read and contains overlapping and
confusing provisions.  It should be repealed and re-written in a clear,
concise manner that allows a layperson to more easily find and understand
current law.  (p. 92)  
Recommendation #11.  Pennsylvania already requires background checks
for all transfers of handguns except those between family members and
requires background checks for the retail transfer of long-guns.  The
background checks required under Pennsylvania law prior to the purchase
of a firearm suffice and need not be expanded further. (p. 93)  
Recommendation #12.   Weapons at local government meetings should not
be banned, because it would impinge on an individual’s constitutional right
to bear arms without producing any measureable safety benefit. (p. 95)  
Recommendation #13:  Inchoate crimes (criminal attempt, solicitation and
conspiracy) are added to the list of crimes that disqualify a person from gun
ownership, as new § 6211(b)(39). (p. 96)  
Recommendation #14:  The term “adjudicated incompetent” should be
replaced with a reference to “adjudicated incapacitated under to 20 Pa.C.S.,
Chapter 55,”  as new §§ 6211(c)(4), 6226 and 6235(5). (p. 97)  
Recommendation #15:  Add adjudication as a juvenile delinquent for
possession with intent to deliver a narcotic to the list of disqualifying
crimes.  This disqualification should apply for 15 years or until the
individual turns 30 years old. (p. 97)  
Recommendation #16.  Reduce from 60 days to 72 hours the time for
persons disqualified from gun ownership to dispose of their firearms.  
(p. 97)
Recommendation #17: Add provisions to clarify that when a person is
disqualified from gun ownership, all weapons in the household should be
removed. (p. 97)  
Recommendation #18:  Similar to those used for enforcement of protection
from abuse disqualifications, add provisions to allow sheriffs to enforce
other disqualifications with or without warrant. (p. 97)  
Recommendation #19:   The General Assembly should consider whether all
involuntary commitments under Section 302 of the Mental Health
Procedures Act should result in firearms disqualifications.  To the extent they
do result in disqualification, there should be a simplified path to restoration
of firearms rights in certain circumstances. (p. 98)  
Recommendation #20:   Add a new provision to the Uniform Firearms Act
to require prompt reporting of lost or stolen firearms.(p. 98)  
Recommendation # 21:  Add a provision to the Uniform Firearms Act to
require individuals to take reasonable safety precautions when firearms are
in a home where children are present. (p. 104)  
Recommendation #22:  Include a check-off box on applications to purchase
handguns for the buyer to acknowledge receipt of a firearms safety
brochure.  (p. 104)  
Recommendation #23:  Define “physician” to ensure that the same level of
qualifications of persons authorizing involuntary commitments are required
for those who can attest to the individual’s relief for firearms
disqualification. (p. 105)  
Recommendation #24:  The form in new § 6232(c) should be modified to
account for the fact that there may be individuals who were previously
disqualified from possessing or acquiring a firearm but who may do so now,
but they would not be able to truthfully complete an application under            
§ 6109(c), which only addresses individuals who have never been so
disqualified.  In other words, the application does not adequately address all
potential circumstances, such as where an applicant’s conviction was overturned, or the applicant was pardoned for the crime, or the applicant’s
mental health issues have been resolved and the disability to possess or
acquire a firearm has been removed.(p. 105)  
Recommendation #25:  The time frame for notifications of disqualifications
to law enforcement authorities should be statutorily shortened from 7 days
to 5 days for internal consistency. (p. 105)  
School Safety Recommendations
Recommendation #26:  All school entities enrolling children from pre-
kindergarten to 12th grade in Pennsylvania should undergo a safety audit.  
Additionally, safety audits should recur on an annual basis.  (p. 107)
Recommendation #27:  School annual safety plans should be complete and
updated regularly.  All schools of any type in the Commonwealth should
provided blueprints of every school building to local law enforcement.  
School safety audits should be a required element of each school’s annual
safety plan.  School safety mandates should be fully funded and should
provide for accountability.  Failure to comply with school safety mandates
should have adverse financial repercussions for the school district or other
sponsoring entity. (p. 109)  
Recommendation #28:  School safety plans should address multi-layered
communications, both within the school and with law enforcement and
emergency responders, such as computer/phone “hotlines,” silent alarms
and panic buttons, plans for alternative responses based on the nature of the
threat encountered (e.g., lock-downs versus shelter-in-place, etc.) and should
also include detailed recommendations from the school safety audit.  
(p. 109)
Recommendation #29:  Priority status for grants for school resource officers
should be given to those school buildings that are the most distant in
response time from local law enforcement.  (p. 111)
Recommendation #30:  While the Advisory Committee supports schools
that choose to hire police officers or school resource officers, the Advisory
Committee strongly opposes arming school administrators, teachers or
other non-law enforcement personnel. (p. 113)
Recommendation #31:  All schools should have Threat Assessment and
Crisis Response Teams in place. (p. 114)  

Recommendation #32:  Schools should provide for safety drills that address
various risks, including active threats, terrorism, explosives and other
scenarios that will allow students, staff and administrators to be better
prepared to respond appropriately to a variety of threats as they evolve.  
(p. 115)  
Recommendation #33:  Student assistance programs should be fully funded
and adequately staffed in every school district. (p. 115)
Recommendation #34:  Student assistance programs, school counselors, and
administrators should be sharing pertinent information with each other on a
timely basis during a preliminary risk analysis.  (p. 115)  
Recommendation #35:  In addition to security and risk assessment
measures, all schools should focus on primary prevention, by creating and
maintaining a safe school climate. (p. 116)
Recommendation #36:  The Pennsylvania Department of Education should
add training for students at the beginning of each school year on what is
dangerous behavior, how to report it and to whom to report it.  (p. 116)
Recommendation #37:   Department of Education curricula should include
positive behavioral support, social and emotional development and learning
and instill good behaviors through positive reinforcements.  (p. 116)
Recommendation #38:  The Department of Education should adopt the
Standards for Student Interpersonal Skills that it created for all schools.  
These standards could be useful in helping create a safe school climate.  
(p. 116)
Recommendation #39:  Schools should be receptive to receiving advice and
training on creating safe school environments.  School teachers and
administrators should not be solely responsible for investigations and
assessments. (p. 117)

Recommendation #40:  All schools should have access to mental health
services for their students and early intervention programs to detect and
prevent potentially violent behavior.  This includes school counselors,
social workers, school nurses, deans, guidance counselors, psychiatrists and
psychologists, as well as other mental health professionals and staff
dedicated to maintaining the social and mental health of the student body.  
Schools, police and mental health services should coordinate activities on
the local level.  Additionally, the Pennsylvania Departments of Education,
Public Welfare and Health should coordinate at the state level to ensure a
continuum of services for children needing support from any of the
departmental programs. (p. 117)
Recommendation #41:  The Pennsylvania Department of Education should
amend its definition of “dangerous school” in order to not penalize those
schools where incidents are safely and positively resolved. (p. 118)
Recommendation #42:  The Department of Education definition of a
reportable crime under its regulations should be amended to be consistent
with the definitions used by law enforcement for Uniform Crime Reporting
purposes. (p. 119)
Recommendation #43:  The Department of Education should review all
educational settings receiving state educational money, including traditional
public school districts, charter schools, cyber schools and other alternative
settings to ensure that they are meeting the same performance standards and
financial accountability as school districts.  If programs are not meeting
standards, then funding should be terminated. (p. 119)
Recommendation #44:  The staff complement at the Department of
Education’s Office of Safe Schools should be expanded to included auditors
who can verify grant recipients are efficiently using grant dollars. (p. 120).

(End of summary)
 The entire December 2013 report of the Advisory Committee on Violence Prevention, PA Joint Government Commission, may be viewed as a .pdf at