Daycare owner says state should revisit gun law

How would you feel about sending your child to a preschool where employees could carry guns?

Right now, that’s not allowed by law. But a Harrisburg daycare owner says times have changed and he wants to be able to protect kids.

Dr. Eric Waters is the co-owner of Ava’s Garden in Uptown Harrisburg. The early childhood education center is home to nearly 100 children and 12 staff members.

Waters says the current state law is out of date, prohibiting him from keeping a firearm on site, to protect his employees and students. “We not only educate them, but our top priority is their safety,” said Waters. ” We are vulnerable, and we know the world is not always very nice to children.”

Waters says there have been attacks recently on soft targets around the world and in the United States that has forced people to take a harder look at security options and recalls an incident a few years ago at a Harrisburg daycare involving a man high on synthetic drugs.

He says it was a wake-up call that daycare security can be compromised.  “He was able to gain entry,” said Waters, “The man began choking a child and if he had a weapon, who knows what would have happened.”

Waters has approached State Senator Rob Teplitz about addressing the law in 2016. He knows some people would not be in favor of a new law, but he asks that people look at the big picture.

“People may think I am going to walk through my daycare toting a gun,” he said, “I am not Steve McQueen or John Wayne, this is an additional safety measure.”

Waters says a new state law would come with safety guidelines and requirements. He says he plans on reaching out to Teplitz in January with statistics and additional information that would strengthen the argument that the current law should be evaluated.

His goal is to get a new law passed that would allow daycare providers to have firearms on site.

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