Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe today proposed having trained school resource officers stationed in elementary schools as a “common sense” option to help keep students safe, while some Democratic lawmakers announced plans to pursue gun control legislation in the 2013 General Assembly session.
McAuliffe said last week’s school shootings in Newtown, Conn. “remind us that we must take any reasonable action to make our children safer.”
“One change we can make now to keep Virginia’s children safe is passing legislation to help localities provide School Resource Officers for elementary schools that request it,” McAuliffe said in a statement issued today. “We already have these trained officers at the majority of high schools and middle schools in Virginia and should simply extend this common sense option to as many elementary schools as possible. These officers are professionals who are specifically trained to respond to dangerous situations and would be available to deal with any threat our children might face.”
McAuliffe said the cost of such a program should be manageable “considering that many schools sharing facilities may already be covered, federal funds are available, and it is of course the decision of each school whether to pursue this option. The legislature should make sure such legislation is as cost-efficient as possible.”
McAuliffe added the he looks forward to recommendations from a school safety task force established by Gov. Bob McDonnell. McDonnell generated controversy on Tuesday by telling a radio interviewer that he would be open to discussing the idea of allowing certain school employees to be armed. In the same interview, McDonnell said he also would consider having armed police officers in all schools.
Meanwhile, some Democratic legislators are proposing state gun control measures in response to the Connecticut shooting rampage. Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax County, said today that he will introduce legislation to make gun owners liable if their guns are used in the commission of a crime and they failed to take adequate care to prevent theft of the firearm. A separate bill would create a $250 penalty for failing to report the theft of a gun.
Marsden sad he and Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax County, also will sponsor legislation to require background checks for all firearms transactions at gun shows, eliminating an exemption for private sellers. Efforts to close the so-called “gun show loophole” have gained little traction in the General Assembly, even after the 2007 mass shootings at Virginia Tech.
An expert panel appointed by then-Gov. Tim Kaine recommended background checks for all gun show sales, and enhanced penalties for guns that are sold without a background check and later used in a crime. Bills to close the loophole are introduced every year, but neither house of the General Assembly has passed such legislation.
Del. Joe Morrissey, D-Henrico County, said today that he will introduce a bill to ban the sale of assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines. Morrissey said the state should enact its own ban without waiting for Congress to pass federal legislation.
The outspoken Morrissey said such weapons “have no place other than on the battlefield.”
“I’m tired of hearing some folk claim that law abiding sportsman need these weapons.” Morrissey said in a news release. “How is it ‘sport’ to go out and shoot Bambi using an assault rifle and accompanying 50 cartridge magazine?”
– Michael Sluss