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Virginia Teachers With Handguns?

Updated on January 30, 2014

As a child of the 70’s, school shootings were not on our minds. We had bullies, peer pressure and mental illness all around us but we didn’t have the amount of mass shootings at schools that children experience today. We felt safe and secure within the walls of our classrooms. Our teachers were a sign of authority that we feared. Times were different. Times have changed.

Children today don’t feel safe in the classroom. They arrive at school afraid they could be the next featured story on the local news. They don’t know if the peer sitting next to them is ready to snap or not. Our children live in a world of insecurity, talking about what they would do should there be a shooter on the rampage at their school. How they hope they would be able to hide and survive. How they would hope they could help their peers. Unfortunately this has become the new normal.

Do you think school personnel should receive specialized training to carry a concealed handgun in schools and at school hosted events?

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The General Assembly of Virginia has a new House Bill on the floor. Introduced in November 2013 and offered in January 2014, HB 21 – School Boards; Employee Firearm Training has come to life. Currently referred to the Committee on Education, this bill would forever change the structure of our schools and offer a new sense of security to students throughout the Commonwealth.

So what does this mean?

Each school board within Virginia will have to designate at least one employee who will be allowed to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds. The employee can be a principal, teacher, or other employee who has been employed with the school district for a minimum of three years. The designated person can also be a school volunteer who has been with the school for a minimum of three years. Or the designated person can be a retired law enforcement who has lived within the school district for a minimum of three years. The chosen personnel will be at the sole discretion of the school board.

The chosen personnel will have to be able to satisfy the requirements to obtain a concealed weapon permit with Virginia. Selected personnel will need to have specialized training with the Virginia Center for School Safety, the National Rifle Association or a course that meets the minimum standard requirements as established by the Criminal Justice Services. Training must include proper handling, carrying, storage and use of a handgun. In addition, personnel will have to be trained on how to properly respond to emergency situations and how to intervene students who pose a threat to the safety of students and staff.

The school board will be required to appoint an advisory committee comprised of school board representatives, superintendents, principals and school safety personnel. The committee will be responsible for setting the standards of certification requirements and ensure each appointed personnel has completed all the credentials and training in order to carry a concealed handgun on school property and at school sponsored events.

When I asked two students (one in middle school and the other in high school) how they felt about the possibility of this becoming a new law, they both had the same reaction. It would make them feel safe knowing that there were trained personnel in their schools that would be able to protect them in the unfortunate event of a shooter. The high school student added that not knowing who was armed and unarmed was good because it would reduce the chances of violence within the classrooms. Knowing the staff was properly trained to defuse a threat before it escalated would be an added bonus because it would help reduce the chances of further, widespread violence at the school.

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