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

    GuestAgain, you have to be more specific. Are you referring to the idea that putting a school teacher against a crazy gunman is stupid or that small government conservatives are looking for a government solution to a problem?

    Now, I understand some of you conservatives actually made it to the 5th grade and like to use words they heard on Jeopardy, but I really think you have it all backwards. I don't twist things. I just post the facts. This is a government sponsored solution: equipping teachers or paying for security guards. Both cost money, which is funny cause conservatives are trying to cut spending. And coincidentally think teachers are horrible. But somehow, good enough to take out the bad guys Dirty Harry style.

    And I'm the ignorant one...

    December 18, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |

    Et tu, McDonnell? Imitating the position held by Governor Oops has just rendered you a moron.

    December 18, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. Cdn

    What a crazy stupid idea.... As a Canadian I read this and am in disbelief. Any form of semi or automatic weapon should be banned except for law enforcement or military purposes.....after all do you need an automatic weapon for hunting?? Maybe if you want the duck to die by heart attack. Each time I visit the US I feel unsafe, not from criminals but by everyday people I see walking around carrying pistols. It's time to disarm the US of its semi's and automatics.

    December 18, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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