State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Wagner calls for mandatory death penalties for school shooters

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 27, 2018 5:35 AM

State Senator Scott Wagner says one of his first acts as governor would be to remove the moratorium on Pennsylvania's death penalty; promises he would "sign death warrants." (Photo by AP)


(Harrisburg) -- In the wake of the of a Florida school shooting that killed 17 earlier this month, Republican state Senator Scott Wagner is making school safety a centerpiece of his campaign.

In particular, he is pledging that if elected, he'll instate a mandatory death penalty for any school shooter who kills someone.

"It's bottom line," Wagner told reporters at a Pennsylvania Press Club address. "When you kill children, we're going to kill you."

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that mandatory death penalties are unconstitutional.

Governor Tom Wolf put a moratorium on Pennsylvania's death penalty when he took office, which he said he'll revisit when a state Senate study on capital punishment is finished.

Wagner argued, that means Wolf would "prioritize the life of an evil school shooter over the lives of innocent school children."

He also said he wouldn't promote stricter gun control laws in his quest for school safety -- though he noted he has to take a closer look at current regulations.

"There are automatic weapons that are made in other countries. There's a black market. And for anybody to think that all these gun control measures right now would have prevented's not reasonable to think that," he said.

He advocated for armed guards in all schools, though didn't elaborate on how he'd pay for them, beyond noting that some schools employ retired state troopers for security purposes.

"Trust me when I tell you that there's money," he said. "I'm going to find the money."

Wagner is in a three-way race for the GOP nomination for governor.

He recently beat lawyer Laura Ellsworth and health systems consultant Paul Mango to snag the state Republican Party's backing. 

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