VA Gov. McDonnell: Time to Discuss Arming School Officials

On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said discussions about arming school officials need to be had and suggested that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre may have been prevented if the principal had been trained and armed with a gun. 

"If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials that were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opportunity to stop an individual trying to get into the school," McDonnell said on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" show.

McDonnell said he realizes there will be a "knee-jerk reaction" against arming school officials and hoped "we're not at the point where when a little first- or second-grader comes into school, the first thing they see is a police officer with a gun."

But, he noted, "I think we should have a discussion about it."

"If a person (like Sandy Hook's principal) was armed and trained, could they have stopped the carnage?" McDonnell posed. "Perhaps."

According to WTOP, laws in Virginia currently "ban anyone from carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of school grounds" and only "police officers are exempt." Virginia also "employs unarmed school resource officers to help at its public schools."

McDonnell said he has "created a task force of school officials, police, safety experts and parents to review school safety" to do "what's right for children and what's right for public safety."

"The key is don't over-react. Don't react when you're emotional because your policies might not be right," McDonnell said. "The key is looking at what works."

According to WTOP, McDonnell stated that in Virginia, "people who have been deemed mentally unstable by a judge are automatically disqualified from purchasing or carrying a firearm" and was not sure if a "lengthy system of registering firearms" would prevent school shootings. 

"I don't know if that would work. It's really hard on me to comment on the multiple suggestions that are coming out," McDonnell said. "I can't tell you whether gun registration would work. It might make people feel good and feel safe, but I'm interested in what will work."

McDonnell also discussed how the country needed to focus on the "health of our culture as a whole" and how "access to mental health care, personal responsibility and Christian charity" can play a role in curbing violence in America. 

"How are we going to be a more just and fair and compassionate society so people don't act out like this?" McDonnell said. 


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