They also came a day after Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) remarked in a radio interview that Virginia should consider arming teachers, principals and other school staff to protect children from such attacks — an idea some local education leaders sharply criticized Wednesday.
Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general, said through a spokesman that he was “open to the discussion” about allowing teachers and other staff to carry weapons.
“[A]s the governor indicated, examining other options — such as arming school resource officers and other properly trained personnel who choose to carry firearms — should be part of any discussion in a review of safety procedures at Virginia schools,” said Cuccinelli spokesman Brian J. Gottstein.
“The AG is open to the discussion,” Gottstein added. “Who ultimately fits the description of ‘properly trained personnel who choose to carry firearms’ would be considered in the school safety review process.”
McAuliffe spokesman Brennan Bilberry said it made more sense to deploy professional officers than to arm teachers.
“Terry’s mainstream proposal to extend the option of School Resource Officers to elementary schools is a better step we can take to protect Virginia children,” Bilberry said via e-mail. “These officers are already professionally trained to handle dangerous situations and would have the protection of children as their primary responsibility. Terry’s idea is a proven, common sense solution.”
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who dropped out of the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in November but says he is mulling an independent bid, broke with McDonnell by dismissing the possibility of arming teachers.
“The Lieutenant Governor believes that the job of a teacher is to teach and he does not support arming teachers,” Bolling’s deputy chief of staff, Ibbie Hedrick, said via e-mail. “If school security needs to be enhanced, it should be done by trained law enforcement personnel.
Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) is proposing a bill that would require schools to arm some teachers or other staff. That goes beyond McDonnell’s comments; the governor had said there should be a discussion about whether staff should be allowed to carry concealed weapons.
The idea of arming teachers was not warmly received by Northern Virginia superintendents, one of whom called the concept “absurd.”
“I’m going to be very simple. I’m going to be very straightforward,” said Pat Murphy, superintendent of Arlington Public Schools. “Absolutely not.”
Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Dale said he hadn’t seen the details of any proposals but added: “the concept of having educators armed in the classroom, to me, is absurd. If you want trained law-enforcement officers in schools you should hire trained law-enforcement officers for the schools. It’s nonsensical to ask educators to carry weapons.”