Va. advances bill to allow armed school security officers

MARSHALL, Va. — Virginia lawmakers have taken a significant step toward allowing school security officers to carry guns, by advancing a bill that could get final House approval later this week.

Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, introduced the bill that would allow retired law enforcement officers to be hired as armed school security officers.

Currently, school resource officers — who are local police officers or sheriff deputies — are the only school personnel allowed to carry a firearm in school.

“There’s just not enough of these folks to go around to every school,” said Lingamfelter.

“None of us want to contemplate the unthinkable, that something horrible could happen in a school,” said Lingamfelter. “Or that law enforcement, particularly in rural areas who have to travel greater distances, might be delayed in getting there to stop a calamity.”

Monday, the House voted to advance the bill to its third reading.

Lingamfelter told House members his bill addresses the concerns Gov. Terry McAuliffe stated when he vetoed a similar bill last year by requiring additional training and certification, and including input from the locality’s chief law enforcement officer.

Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, cited statistics of gun violence affecting teens and young children, but said having additional guns in schools would not be the solution.

“The real problem is not at schools, it’s at home and other places,” said Simon, who opposed the bill.

Fauquier County Del. Michael Webert, a Republican whose district includes parts of Fauquier, Culpeper, Rappahannock, and Warren counties, supports the bill.

“They’re not exactly wealthy, land rich/cash poor, they don’t have a lot of resources, and this is another alternative for that locality to protect their children, utilizing their resources,” Webert said.

“And I don’t understand why the gentleman would be against protecting children, and giving localities the ability to protect our children,” Webert said.

The bill could receive the House’s final approval later this week.

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