Bill to arm some school security officers passes, but veto seen as likely

BY ELLIOT DENNIS
STAFF WRITER
THE CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

Supporters and opponents of a bill that would let some school security officers carry weapons on the job expect Gov. Terry McAuliffe to veto the measure after it passed both the House and the Senate.

The bill, HB 1392 introduced by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, passed the Senate 24-16 after passing the House 75-22. Eleven Democratic delegates and three Democratic senators crossed party lines to vote in favor of the bill.

The bill would authorize a school security officer to carry a firearm while working under certain conditions, including status as a former law enforcement officer and specific training.

“This bill is not new to us,” Lingamfelter said, “We brought this bill to you, that basically permits localities to use, to hire school security officers who are former retired police officers to be armed so they can provide the same basic protection that a school resource officer provides.”

Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, voted against the bill and said he is worried that guns will accidentally come into play in daily issues that a school security officer deals with, such as insubordinate students.

“I think in general guns in schools are probably not a smart idea,” Levine said, “I would imagine that far more often guns would accidentally be used and be used to harm kids far more often than they would be used to save lives.”

Levine said that he knows the bill’s policy is based on active shooter situations but an active shooters biggest advantage is surprise and he said this bill will not help to defend against surprise.

“It comes to a philosophical thing, are people safer in general with tons and tons and tons of death killing machines around or are people safer with fewer death killing machines around,” Levine said.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun advocate organization, supports the bill.

“We ultimately need to make it so that if you’ve got a concealed hand gun permit you can carry in the school,” saidPhillip Van Cleave, president of the league.

“Federal law is okay with it, if you’ve got a permit from the state where the school is federal law says it is okay to carry into the school, the only law that gets in the way is Virginia’s.”

Despite the bill passing congress Levine said it will get vetoed by McAuliffe.

“I am quite confident the governor will veto it, we will sustain his veto, this will not become law,” Levine said.

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