A Virginia lawmaker is drafting a bill that would order some teachers to carry guns in response to the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Virginia last week.
The Washington Postreported on Wednesday that Republican state Sen. Robert G. Marshall’s legislation would force school districts to arm certain staff members after they passed a course on gun safety.
Virginia Division of Legislative Services staff attorney Wenzel J. Cummings, who was asked to write the bill, initially questioned whether the General Assembly had the authority to require that teachers be armed. But he came to the conclusion that the legislation could be proposed based on examples of other mandates the state had imposed.
“Given that this is a mandate placed on the school board with regard to the training of its personnel, it seems to be within the realm of what your bill request would seek to accomplish requiring the training of personnel who would carry a firearm,” Cummings wrote in a letter Marshall provided to the Post. “In that vein, if you would prefer a ‘shall’ versus a ‘may,’ we think you could probably go forward with a ‘shall’ bill.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Tuesday told WTOP radio that the state “should have a discussion” about overturning a law criminalizing firearms within 1,000 feet of school grounds, but he stopped short of endorsing Marshall’s gun mandate.
“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. “If a person [like Sandy Hook's principal] was armed and trained, could they have stopped the carnage? Perhaps.”
Marshall’s bill is certain to be met with strong objections but the lawmaker is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, he apologized after suggesting that women who have abortions were more likely to have children with birth defects because of God’s “vengeance.” Earlier this year, he insisted that “sodomy is not a civil right” after he blocked an openly gay man from becoming General District Court judge in Richmond.
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