Virginia governor open to discussion about arming school employees
December 18th, 2012
02:45 PM ET
1 year 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. HawaiiWahine

    Here is my corrected spelling version – sorry for posting to quickly above.

    HawaiiWahine

    Arming teachers and teaching professionals 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 make 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 in how to keep students (or anyone) from overpowering them. Give each adult in the school an emergency alarm that is carried on their person so they can alert the guard. Keep in mind that there are over 100,000 schools in the U.S. An attack by an outsider is probably 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 another kid who made fun of him for answering a question incorrectly, I really am glad there was not a gun he could have grabbed and shot the other kid. Kids are in much more danger from each other than they are from strangers. Sadly many kids are stressed due to their home situations (and in some cases genetic or developmental disorders) which they cannot control and will take out their stress on other kids in a moment of loss of self-control. Don’t add in more guns- add in more a better safety network of a trained professional guard and more guidance counselors.

    December 18, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Kenny K

    The governor(s) should start the experiment by allowing people that work in his/(their) own office to be packed and loaded.

    December 18, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Some on the right have lost their little piece of mind.

    Obviously, they're just parroting what they hear other conservatives saying that is well received by voters. Took the Republican politicians all of three days to build up the courage (listening to what their people were feeling so they could say what their people wanted to hear) to come out and say something. Democrats spoke out against the tragedy immediately.

    Repubicans are speaking in one voice. "Arm teachers." They have not considered the costs: training; arming; psychological testing; the legal battles that will ensue over the prospect of using tax dollars to purchase weapons for private citizens.

    It would be far cheaper, and sensible to hire professionals. But, NO! The idea of a free gun, paid for by the taxpayers, sounds so much better.

    December 18, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. Tom in Delaware

    If an adult who works in a school wants to carry a concealed weapon then let them...no one has to be forced to do so....just the idea that someone may be armed will to much to dissuade a potential killer. Also – there are guns that can only be fired if the 'fingerprint' of the owner is on the trigger.....so even if somehow a child or someone else managed to get hold of the gun then it would not fire.....there are many options and solutions.....simply declaring someone else an _______ (fill in your favorite pejorative her) is not an open-minded debate that will benifit our children and sensibly solve this problem.

    December 18, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. ghostriter

    Not a surprise coming from Mr. Ultrasound himself.

    Conservatives accuse liberals of being statists and using the government to solve issues while promoting a government solution to solve the issue. And in typical conservative fashion, they propose something that won't solve the issue, but make them feel a bit better.

    December 18, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. NVa Native

    The last thing I want near my kids is some gun toting wanna-be macho man or woman school administrator armed and thinking he's the "new" sheriff in town.
    McDonnell has been a horrible Gov, just like Allen and Gilmore of the past diverting our all ready collected tax money (highway funds currently) then saying he'll divert the funds to his pet program and make the local govts pay for the stuff he just took the tax money from.
    Horrible people now want to arm some tee-bagger school administrator in my kid's school??!!
    To say we need more guns in our schools is disgustingly disrespectful.

    December 18, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. Don Thompson

    Only in America. Really, in no other country would a political leader seriously advocate teachers carrying firearms. A not-so-fine example of American exceptionalism.

    December 18, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. rs

    Tom in Delaware-

    THINK! Just for a minute- these people who commit these crimes aren't interested in their own security. THEY KILL THEMSELVES!

    December 18, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. tammyk tammy

    Would he make the school and the teacher exempt from legal prosecution when they inadvertantly shoot a child in the midst of trying to take down a crazed killer wielding multiple weapons and dressed in body armor? Wild west shoot out at your local elementary is a VERY BAD IDEA.

    December 18, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. BC

    The only agenda I'm interested in furthering is that of my 5, 4 and 1 year old. In addition to an armed police officer at every school I would be 100% on board to allow teachers to carry. The state wouldn't "arm" the teachers, those teachers that choose to exercise their right to carry their own concealed weapon would do so, and would be required to go through training twice a year with the police department. Gunmen choose these "gunfree" zones because they know there will not be opposition. Removing the "gunfree" aspect in of itself would likely deter many of these cowards because they know their chances of what they consider a "successful" rampage are diminished.

    December 18, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. GuestAgain

    Leave it to the states, the blue states can have their liberal laws and the red their conservative laws.

    December 18, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. patNY

    Isn't the problem really about keeping guns OUT of schools? And these guys want to bring even more guns! I can see it already...teacher going off the deep end because her class won't shut up, and plows them all down with her Bushmaster Rifle!

    December 18, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. sonny chapman

    Any "Leader" who thinks that's is the route to go is not a leader but a Demagogue or plain stupid..

    December 18, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. D. Brown

    Govt. will never sanction a test for mental stability....if they did Perry and McDonnell, along with 75 % of their GOP associates in Congress would be found to be nutcakes!

    December 18, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Mike

    The solution to gun violence is more guns? The solution to our deficit is more tax cuts? The solution to economic collapse is less regulation, that results in more bank speculation? You just cannot fix stupid.

    December 18, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. weerak

    Two Republican Governer's saying that we should arm teachers. This is why they lost the elections in 2012 big time!
    You guys are lunatics who have the intelligence of primates.
    Can you imagine how scared students would be of the teacher? I would not send any of my kids to a school that has its teachers armed.
    Don't you not know the fundamentals norms of a society? Teachers are there to teach, guide, and mentor the younger generation!!!

    December 18, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. Ed Gonzales

    Just another right wing nut job.

    December 18, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Tony

    Instead of arming teachers, let's hire more security guards. Millions of people are unemployed. Put them to work.

    December 18, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  19. rs

    The GOP simply has a wicked sense of humor- they hate teachers, teachers' professional organizations, they don't pay them well, and now they want them to be "Cops" too. What is it? Do they think the skill sets are similar? For people who claim to be "conservative", and "fiscally responsible" and want smaller government- what would we be looking at arming teachers?
    Who pays for the weaponss, ammunition and training (remembering the meager teacher's salary)?
    What will this to to municipalities' insurance?
    What will this do to teacher's insurance?
    Who pays for what when it all goes bad (AND it will)?
    How will teachers be rewarded? Based on their knowledge and skills as teachers, or their gun range scores?

    When you want really bad ideas, I give you the GOP.

    December 18, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  20. ghostriter

    So the conservative solution is to pit a deranged would be gunman outfitted in military garb against a teacher with a survival class and a free lesson at the gun range under her belt.

    December 18, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. sonny chapman

    That's the right answer for someone who wants to get the 2016 Repub. Nomination. That's the wrong answer for someone who wants to President of the United States.

    December 18, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "are carried out by nuts that target places where they are assured that no one will be able to shoot back."

    Yeah...that's why they're always wearing a KEVLAR vest and, if they don't manage to get killed by someone else, always seem to take their own life too. These people aren't looking to survive what they're doing, just start it and then end it with their deaths.

    December 18, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    This is a way more sensible approach than disarming law abiding citizens.

    December 18, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    It's their answer to everything. Trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the wealthy redistribute the wealth upwards for decades, shrink the middle-class, cause massive deficits and debts: answer is more tax cuts. Problem with gun proliferation and gun violence and mass shootings: answer is more guns. It's almost universally what they suggest: do the thing causing the problem more and it will magically fix the problem.

    December 18, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. mike

    What a brilliant idea. And if the teacher doesn't want to pack heat fire them and hire one that will. Their union might object but the Republicans have a plan to rid themselves of that pesky problem!

    December 18, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
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