Del. Robert G. Marshall is proposing a bill that would require some teachers or other school staff to carry concealed weapons in schools.
Marshall (R-Prince William) requested that the bill be drafted in response to the mass shooting last week at a Connecticut elementary school.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) said through a staff member Wednesday that he does not favor requiring school employees to be armed.
Marshall’s idea had some takers, however.
“I would be very supportive of the idea that properly trained teachers could carry concealed firearms,” said Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun). “There's no way you’d have 20 innocent children gunned down if you had teachers who could help to defend themselves.”
Philip Van Cleave
, who heads the Virginia Citizens Defense League
, said he would like to see the state eliminate the gun-free zones surrounding schools. As an interim step, he would support arming teachers and other staff.
“We’d prefer to just see that [gun-free zone] go away, not just [for] teachers but even parents or whoever,” he said. “They’re carrying everywhere else. Why do we not trust them on school grounds? Gun-free zones don’t work, and telling people with permits they can’t carry on school property — the people you don’t want carrying on school property don’t have permits.”
The state lawyer tasked with drafting Marshall’s bill initially questioned whether the General Assembly had the authority to mandate that school boards arm staff, as opposed to simply allowing them to do so, according to a letter from the lawyer provided by Marshall.
“The Constitution of Virginia is fairly unclear on the role of the school boards vis-à-vis the General Assembly with regard to the schools,” wrote Wenzel J. Cummings, staff attorney for the Virginia Division of Legislative Services. Under the Constitution, school boards have “primary responsibility and authority for effectuating the educational policy,” but their authority is “subject to the ultimate authority of the General Assembly,” Cummings wrote.
Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), Democratic caucus chair, said in a statement: “I am appalled. There are more guns in America than people, and yet we have one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world. The Governor should know better than to suggest that arming citizens will solve anything
. Maybe the Governor should focus on solutions that could actually have an impact, like banning the high-capacity magazines used to inflict horrific violence upon countless American cities, from Aurora to Newton.”