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

    We need more cowbell in that song !!!!

    December 18, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. GuestAgain

    ghostriter – your ability to infer a completely different meaning than what was stated and intended to tell your bs version of events reflects your ignorance. You are not alone...unfortunately!

    December 18, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. tammyk tammy

    HawaiiWahine made an excellent commentary about the possibilites of an angry student wrestling a gun away from a armed teacher. There is also the possibility of an angry teacher shooting an unruly student. When I was in high school back in the 1980s, I witnessed my band teacher lose his temper and physically attack a kid just for goofing around and making faces at him. A teacher having a gun available creates a very slim possibility to preventing tragedy and instead increases the chances of gun violence by both teachers and student. Psych testing of teachers won't make a difference either. The teacher that I saw lose his temper was a sane, decent, law abiding, excellent teacher who just snapped that day.

    December 18, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    If you want your teachers armed, then I suggest home schooling.

    December 18, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. larry from d block

    the shooter in question was well trained by his mom to his guns....see how he used it?

    December 18, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. ghostriter

    For those that believe these "safe zones" are the only places folks get shot......

    The number of police officers who have died in the line of duty in 2011 has increased 14% nationwide from last year, according to The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. "We're hearing about more brazen, violent activity today, more cold-blooded murders," said Craig Floyd, chairman and CEO of the fund. The shooting death of a New York police officer early Monday morning marks the 166th death nationwide in the past 11 months, up from last year's 146, Floyd said. This most recent killing comes just days after the murder of Virginia Tech University police officer Deriek W. Crouse. That death shook a campus still reeling from a 2007 shooting rampage that killed 32 people. Since last week's shooting at Virginia Tech, three other police officers have been shot and killed, including Figoski, Floyd said. "For the first time in 14 years, firearms-related deaths will outnumber traffic and 'other'-related deaths," Floyd said. A National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund preliminary report said that in 2011, 62 law enforcement deaths are attributed to firearms, 60 deaths are attributed to traffic-related instances and 44 are attributed to other causes.

    December 18, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Censored @ cnn

    Get rid of illegal guns first democrats and then we'll look at those legally possessed.

    December 18, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    This was an unfortunate incident, but this would be a non-story if it happened to black kids in inner cities so until ALL kids are treated equal, don't expect any sympathy from me.

    December 18, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Good for him. He just lost the upcoming Senate race. See ya.

    December 18, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. 2012liberal

    Do we get 2 provide the armed teachers w bullet proof vest 2? Got 2 love this proposal when they cant even provide needed funding 4 safe schools that r debillitated. Dont mind leaking pipes or roofs but fund 4 guns n schl. B cuz children dont get curious about the guns that may b at hm but now hv that curiosity extend 2 schls 2. Ridiculous. MAAW- Mothers Against Assault Weapons!

    December 18, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. Tom in Delaware


    "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.
    They're looking to wrack up the death toll so they can feel important and know that the MSM will make them famous...but you're the end, most of the time (~75%) they want to die. Knowing that, it's important that we make schools and other places 'LESS" appealing for may very well be that there are quite a few schools in which no teachers would be armed (but the killer won't know) but the mere idea that they could will serve as a deterent....get rid of all 'Gun Free Zones'.....they're the places where all the mass murders take place....look it up.

    December 18, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  12. Tom in Delaware


    For those that believe these "safe zones" are the only places folks get shot......
    No one said it was the only place people get shot...that's silly.....but the 'Gun Free Zones' have an over-representation of where mass murders take place.

    December 18, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Malory Archer


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


    Yeah, except that would require tax dollars for funding, so good luck with that!

    December 18, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. John

    Why don't we give everyone a gun

    December 18, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. Data Driven

    I feel like I'm in Wonderland. Cheshire cats, Mock Turtles, Red Queens, Mad Tea Parties. I.e., a world gone totally insane.

    I cannot be any clearer than this: I do not want my kids' teachers to be armed. I do not want guns anywhere in a room where children are. You unbelievable lunatics.

    December 18, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. Fred Lemna

    Patently ridiculous notion...A nation continues to implode.

    December 18, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    "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
    We're at that point only if you want to arm the teachers. Hiring professionals is a LOT cheaper. Unfortuntely though, the prospect of arming teachers and free guns is just to popular an idea now to ignore. And just because the idea is gaining popularity doesn't make it a smart idea, either.

    December 18, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. ghostriter

    Anonymous, you are correct. But that's the way it's always been. As many shootings that occur in black neighborhoods, I don't think anything like this has happened. 20 kids, under 7 years old? A bit different.

    December 18, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. josh rogen

    YES!!!! finality someone gets it!!

    December 18, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. NVa Native

    False myths and flat-earther fantasy ~ "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."

    So now they want guns everywhere?! Free to shoot down anyone they deem a threat.
    Talk about mental health issues – afraid of their own shadow these armed "citizens" strutting around full of false bravado unleashed onto the public is a dangerous NRA fantasy.

    December 18, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Randy, San Francisco

    What message will arming school teachers give to students? Have America degenerated into a lawless dystopian society in which guns and killings are the new normal? The GOP/Tea Party and NRA vision for America is too much of a nightmare to comprehend. Oh yes, Gov Bob McDonnell should be held responsible by voters in his next election.

    December 18, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "get rid of all 'Gun Free Zones'.....they're the places where all the mass murders take place....look it up."

    I have and that's untrue. it's cherry-picked talking point rhetoric from the imbeciles in the NRA and gun lobby who want to use this as an excuse to encourage the purchase of more firearms for their gun manufacturers puppetmasters.

    December 18, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. Alan Rose

    The Governor is on the right track but he needs to include parents and all legally armed citizens.

    December 18, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. carly

    McDonnell is an id*ot but we already knew that.

    December 18, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Bellezur

    Just like the old west then we can handle our problems with shoot outs in the street. Knee jerk reaction.

    December 18, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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