Governor hopeful wants death for school shooters

HARRISBURG — Republi­can gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner said Monday that he would pursue a mandatory death penalty for any school shooter who kills someone, although legal analysts said laws like that have been unconstitutional for decades.

The state senator from York County also said he would put an armed officer in every school building.

During an appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club, Wagner said his message is “if someone kills one of our children, we will kill them.”

Wagner’s comments came in the context of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that killed 17 people, and he turned the shooting into a line of attack against Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

“I have a very bold message for any coward who is deranged enough to consider attacking our children at school: When I am governor, these cowards will pay the ultimate price,” Wagner said.

Wagner, who is running in a three-way primary for the GOP nomination to challenge Wolf’s re-election bid this year, said he would introduce a bill while he remains in the state Senate that allows “no plea bargains, no life sentences and no mercy.”

Robert Dunham, of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, said Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that it is unconstitutional for any system to impose the death penalty without allowing the jury to consider any factors that might call for mercy.

“There is absolutely no question that mandatory death sentences are unconstitutional, and any law that attempts to institute a mandatory death penalty would be struck down as unconstitutional,” Dunham said.