Several new gun measures are on the legislative agenda in Virginia, including one that would allow teachers to have a gun in school.
For years, gun owners with their guns at their side have been welcome on the Virginia Capitol grounds and inside its buildings. A bill to limit that practice is one of several measures being introduced by lawmakers who believe in the wake of the Newtown school shooting, there is fresh momentum for gun control.
“We know we can’t prevent every single tragedy, but we can limit the numbers that occur and limit the kind of mass casualties that we’ve seen in the past,” said Delegate Patrick Hope, D-Arlington.
Hope and fellow northern Virginia lawmaker Sen. Adam Ebbin are both pushing bills to place new restrictions and conduct more screening on those who want to bring guns into capitol buildings. Hope also has filed a bill requiring background checks on all Virginia gun sales -- even private ones between individuals. About 40 percent of all gun transactions in the commonwealth take place without a background check, Hope said.
“If you want to get into the market of selling guns, which can be quite dangerous, then we want to know who you’re selling those guns to,” he said.
A bill from Ebbin would require gun owners to report a stolen gun to police within 24 hours.
Gun rights activists draw a different message from recent mass shootings. They say gun free zones, like schools, must be better protected. Prince William County Delegate Bob Marshall's bill would arm teachers, administrators and volunteers inside schools if they get special training.
“I've got letters, emails from all around the state from public school administrators, principals, vice principals and teachers who want to do this,” Marshall said. “They don’t want to be like sheep led to a slaughter.”
Other gun rights supporters back him up.
“I think it’s time to take another look and say, ‘You know what? Maybe we ought to stop having the schools be a gun free zone and make them a place where teachers can defend themselves and defend the children,” said state Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun County.