Virginia governor open to discussion about arming school employees
December 18th, 2012
02:45 PM ET
2 years ago

Virginia governor open to discussion about arming school employees

(CNN) - A second Republican governor on Tuesday expressed his openness to considering arming school personnel, including teachers, as a line of defense against violence such as the Friday shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell did not outwardly endorse such a plan, but cautioned against immediately rejecting it.

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"I know there's been a knee jerk reaction against that," McDonnell said to the idea when asked in an interview on WTOP, a Washington radio station. "I think there should be a discussion of that - if people were armed, not just the police officer but other school officials were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would have been an opportunity to stop aggressors coming in to the schools."

His comments follow an endorsement of the idea by Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, Monday night. He said teachers with the proper training and license should have "access to weapons in their school" and licensed Texans "should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state."

McDonnell pointed to armed airline pilots as an example of non-law enforcement professionals carrying firearms on the job. Thousands of pilots have gone through training and been authorized to carry a firearm aboard their airplane.

The state's current law bans possession of a firearm by anyone other than law enforcement within 1,000 feet of a school – a measure McDonnell said he supported.

Before this term as governor, McDonnell served as attorney general of his state from 2006-2009, which included the 2007 killing of 33 people at Virginia Tech.

He spoke about watching news of the Friday shooting unfold on his television, and said it is time for "another discussion about mental health and mental public safety and how those intersect," and time to consider "how are we going to be a more just and fair and compassionate society so people don't act out like this."

"My hope is that we're not at that point where when a little first or second grader comes in to school, the first thing they see is a police officer with a gun," he said in the interview

Arming school personnel in the most recent school shooting could have saved lives, McDonnell suggested. The gunman who forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 20 students and six adults in a barrage of bullets, police said, before taking his own life.

"This perpetrator went into the principal's office and actually killed the principal that was lunging, according to the facts that have come out so far, at the perpetrator heroically to try to stop him," he said. "If a person was armed and trained could they have stopped the carnage in the classroom? Perhaps. I think these are discussions that rational people should have to see what works to be able to stop school violence."

A Democratic member of his state's congressional delegation disagreed sharply.

McDonnell's words left Rep. Gerry Connolly "appalled," he said.

"The governor is actually implying that this heroic principal, who gave her life to protect the children in her care, was somehow inadequate, that she could have done more," he wrote in a statement. "Ask yourself what could go wrong with that. Can you imagine if there had been a shootout at Newtown? The idea that the principal, had she been armed, could have somehow stopped this person with her weapon is very dangerous thinking."

– CNN's Kevin Liptak and Steve Brusk contributed to this report


Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Virginia
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    And TN is talking about arming teachers now too. Freekin ridiculous. Who's really the ones that are trying to use this travesty to further their agenda? The people saying "let's have a discussion about ways we an keep these guns out of people's hands and prevent or reduce the occurence of these incidents"? Or is it the people saying "let's proliferate even more gun possession and get more guns in circulation...or hey, let's even make it mandatory for our teachers to carry one so that they have to buy one from...oh wait, I meant so that they can protect the childrenz."?

    People like McDonnell and Perry and what not are very weilling to say "I'll atlk about arming our school teachers," but if you ask them to talk about possible solutions like more frequent periodic background or fitness-to-carry examinations or longer wait times or closing the gun show loophole, they quickly say "there's no point in having this conversation at all beacuse you can't stop it from happening." THEY ARE ALL FULL OF CRAP.

    December 18, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  2. Pander Bear

    Yet another pandering clown. How about advocating a full psychological investigation of anyone wanting to buy an Assault Rifle? God forbid we should propose any sensible solutions. Why is that the GOP always suggests downright stupidly simple suggestions to complex problems?

    December 18, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. ST

    What an ill thinking arming school employees. Get Cops patrol schools so often during school hours.

    December 18, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. rs

    Maybe he can hybridize- you know guns and ultrasound probes....

    December 18, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  5. DumbasRocks [R]s

    Here is a FACT based on experience: every single privately owned gun in this country has more of a chance of injuring or killing a family member or friend than it does being used to stop a crime.

    Now, think for a minute what the consequences would be if we had schools full of guns, like these idiot [R]s are now telling us we need. I'll grant you that a very few of those guns would be useful in stopping a crime. But the headlines would much more frequently be filled with another kind of gun tragedy.

    I wish Repub. politicians had a measurable amount of brains.

    December 18, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Be Sane

    Our nation has gone crazy. All I can say.

    December 18, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. jkane sfl gop mascots the blubbering slobs allen west rover nitwitquest rick scott ,carl rove and donald dump ??????

    Another gop idiot gov.the idea is to keep guns out of schools not bring them in and maybe if the gop freaks like McDonald's ,didn't cit their budgets to the bone ,they could afford to station a cop and car at the schools like they do up north ,moron gop!!!!!

    December 18, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. mcskadittle

    i am not so sure arming the lunch lady or the janitor is such a good idea

    December 18, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. JustAO

    The GOP legislators are truly ridiculous. I'm sure most teachers would rather not carry a loaded gun with them while they are around children, but hey, fear trumps rationality right? Wouldn't parents just love to hear their child's teacher is carrying a gun with them in their classroom. That sounds reasonable to noone. Can we be a little realistic on these matters GOP legislators? Stop reacting without thinking first before you propose a law.

    December 18, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. jkane sfl gop mascots the blubbering slobs allen west rover nitwitquest rick scott ,carl rove and donald dump ??????

    Hey stupid,put them in your own kids shook ,we don't want gun fights in our kids school ,gop morons starting with the gop goofball McDonald'.

    December 18, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. I FORGOT MY NAME

    Maybe a couple of pearl handled pistols would be good for fashion. It could start a trend.

    December 18, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  12. Voice Crying In the Wilderness

    So, if teachers refuse to carry weapons, do you fire them?

    December 18, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. HawaiiWahine

    Arming teachers and teaching professions is not the answer. Having taught in a public school, I can tell you that students could overpower a teacher, steal their gun and shoot anyone who just made fun of them. Teaching professionals should be focused on teaching and guiding students into adulthood. Not having to be on edge to defend their students. What would m ake more sense would be to have an armed guard in each school who has passed psychological stability tests, is highly trained in how to use the weapon and to keep students from overpowering them. Give each adult in the school and emergency alarm that is carried on their person so they can alert the guard. Keep in mind, there are over 100,000 schools in the U.S. An attack by an outsider is averaging at best 1 per year since Columbine. Keep this in perspective and don't give students an opportunity to get to a weapon when they have flash anger against another student or teacher. Having lived through one experience in which a student grabbed a pair of scissors out of the science teacher's desk and held them up to the throat of kid who made fun of him for answering a question incorrectly, I really am glad there was not a guy he could have gotten ahold of.

    December 18, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. boom

    Ok. Sounds fine IF guns concealled by citizens are also allowed inside the Capital Building, Governor's office, on planes, in courtrooms, etc. You know...so we can shoot the crazy people and protect everyone...

    December 18, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. Logic N LA

    Another person with no clue. Armed teachers are a bigger threat to student security than they face now. Next they will be calling ofr the kids themselves to carry guns. I've never been a person to ban guns, but with these stupid statements being made by our leaders I may change my mind.

    December 18, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    Funny, he did not want a discussion about abortion rights, did he? Use the power of the State for ultrasounds, but once they're born, they're on their own. Instead of anew backpack, should I get my kids a Kevlar vest so they don't accidentally get plugged by their teacher?

    December 18, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY

    Governer "guns rights/individual rights" also endorses "government intrusion" aka forced ultrasounds...hmmmm

    December 18, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Tom in Delaware

    Unfortunately,'Gun Free School Zones' have turned our schools, malls and theaters into Killing Feilds.....all the mass murders are carried out by nuts that target places where they are assured that no one will be able to shoot back. It was a well-intentioed idea that backfired. These murderers never target a police or fire station or a courthouse....they want to wrack up the score before they take their own lives or are killed. To place all the emphasis on the guns and nothing else is fruitless. The 10 years of the Assault Weapons Ban had zero affect of stopping violence....period.....repeating another 'feel-good' measure will do nothing.....repealing the Gun Free Zones and providing real protection for children is sensible. Turn off the neon sign that says "No Guns Here.....Com'on In".

    December 18, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  19. JustAO

    Profit trumps reality. That is the whole entire platform of the GOP. As long as the wealthy can make a profit, war, financial collapses, gun sales, fear, ignorance, religious zealotry, bigotry, worker rights are of no consequence to them. Keep it up and your party will no longer represent this country. The next generation of voters do not think this way.

    December 18, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. Jon Robertson

    This does sound like a good starting point into a discussion on how to keep our country's school children safe; We must think about what may happen if these armed perrsonell are careless with these weapons though. I think the police officers or guards at our schools should be carryig a weapon & they could carry such a weapon concealed from view if warranted. Arming school personell is something that should definately be debated beforehand. In my opinion there are some teachers I don't believe I would trust with a handgun while at work. Put another way, I do not want to see another mass school shooting because of a chemically imbalanced teacher with a gun that they were given permission to carry.

    December 18, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. stopmadness

    This goes beyond ridiculous. It's severely irresponsible for the Gov. float such bad ideas.

    December 18, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  22. BUGG

    I don't own any guns but I do personally know three people who have shot and killed a person in self defense, one has actually done it twice. They would argue in favor of this subject.

    December 18, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. Portland tony

    It would certainly give the kids a lesson about our society. Plus who's to say all teachers are mentally fit to pack a firearm in the classroom. Well, I can see the lawsuits already. "Mom, my teacher threatened to shoot me cause I talked in class"! Jesus what idiots.

    December 18, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. nothing new here

    I have posted this thought several times on this web-site....
    Armed, trained security guards, yes, I can agree with that.
    But teachers need to be focused on teaching.
    Go into some of these grocery stores, department stores, and other businessess. These places have security officers, that their only job is to patrol the building and observe eveyone inside the building. Asking teachers to act like security guards first will only further hamper them in teaching their students.

    December 18, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. jkane sfl gop mascots the blubbering slobs allen west rover nitwitquest rick scott ,carl rove and donald dump ??????

    Hey, why not just ARM the kindergarten kids McDonald' ,gop morons idea ,from the wild west ,this is 2012 ,in case you lost track trying to protect the top 2% tax breaks and you lost the elections!!!!

    December 18, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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