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McDonnell: Consider Faculty With Guns in School

Legislation considered following tragedy at Sandy Hook

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    NEWSLETTERS

    While the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., has renewed a national debate over gun control, the issue is proving divisive in the Washington region. (Published Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012)

    The mass shooting last week in Connecticut has renewed the national debate for more gun control.

    Gun owners and non-gun owners have the same reaction to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    "It's a tragedy what has happened,” gun owner Patrick Alfredo Paez said. “I mean no one can deny that. I mean these are beautiful, little children that have been killed. There's no reason for these things."

    But the people at Blue Ridge arsenal in Chantilly, Va., Tuesday do not agree that restricting gun ownership and banning assault-style weapons are the answers.

    “I don’t really think banning any type of firearm is going to prevent people with mental issues from harming other people," gun owner Steve Melson said.

    "The answer is more training and education, not more laws or banning," gun owner Tina Wilson said.

    On WTOP radio Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said it's time to discuss allowing school officials to carry firearms on campus. http://bit.ly/VP1qIu

    "If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials that were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opportunity to stop an individual trying to get into the school," he said.

    In response, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., tweeted "@Bob McDonnell's suggestion that armed teachers could have stopped #Newtown tragedy is outrageous. Guns don't belong in schools.”

    "I don't have any policy recommendations that I'm making on arming teachers or anything else at this point,” McDonnell said. “I'm simply suggesting that our school audits need to be looked at to find ways to implement those better, find out what the experts say that they would recommend to protect our schools better. That's all."

    Policy changes shouldn't occur in the immediate aftermath of an event such as Friday’s massacre, McDonnell said, but it's appropriate to hold a larger discussion about related issues.

    The governor supported a ban on people other than law enforcement bringing firearms into schools but noted the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School who reportedly ran toward the shooter to try to protect her students.

    “If a person like that was armed and trained could they have stopped the carnage in the classroom? Perhaps,” he said.

    McDonnell said gun control isn't a comprehensive solution to violence in America. He says access to mental health care, personal responsibility and the overall health of our culture also should be discussed.

    “Don't react solely when you're emotional because your policies may not be right but really get to the bottom of what works and what can actually make a difference,” he said.

    In Maryland, state Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery County, will propose new gun restriction in January.

    “I'm hoping that we will pass an assault weapon ban right when we get back in there and that we will make the Maryland State Police an effective actor in cracking down on the bad actor gun dealers who are letting guns go or are selling guns under the table that end up in the hands of criminals," he said.

    He is referring to gun shows where they don't always do background checks when selling a weapon.

    Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said his administration will introduce bills aimed at preventing shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Details of the legislation have yet to be worked out, but O’Malley said he believes everyone has been changed by Friday's massacre.

    And state Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery County, said he and other lawmakers plan to announce this week a package of gun control legislation.