Herring's call on arming teachers is wrong

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says it’s illegal for teachers to be armed in schools. This is a disturbing statement on two levels: Is he that poor of a lawyer he doesn’t understand the law; or is he allowing his personal political (and party) views to form his legal opinions?

Either is a scary thought.

HB 1392 became law in 2017. This bill substantially amended an earlier measure to allow schools to hire armed school security officers (not to be confused with school resource officers who are law enforcement officers). The enactment of this law clearly demonstrates that the General Assembly did not believe that schools had any other method for allowing persons to carry firearms at schools.

The law clearly states that school boards may hire armed security guards. There is also a clarification from the attorneys in the Division of Legislative Services agreeing that school boards have this option of protecting students and staff. This law does not define security guard; however, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice has approved courses that qualified citizens may attend and with successful completion of these classes be unarmed or armed security guards. Further training may be obtained from several sources. One such is the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response course. This organization provides scholarships to teachers seeking training to protect students in an active shooter event.

It’s clear from Herring’s statement he is misleading the public on whether school boards have the right to hire armed school guards or, more disturbing, doesn’t understand the law. He may also be forcing his personal political views on the law which is also not acceptable.

A final observation: It does seem curious that the very people that are most vocal about not having firearms in schools and allowing teachers, after being fully trained in firearm use, to carry concealed in school are the first to call the police (who have guns) to come to the school when there is a problem. The majority of active shooter situations in schools are over by the time the police can respond, through no fault of their own. It makes much more sense to have armed trained people in the school that can respond in a few minutes.

Robert Wilson

James City County

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