Gov. Bob McDonnell had suggested yesterday in an interview on WTOP that the Sandy Hook school massacre might have been prevented if teachers had been armed, a suggestion that was ridiculed by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
“The safety of our children should always be a top priority. As a dad, it is difficult to imagine that horrific tragedies could happen in our communities and schools. The events of last week remind us that we must take any reasonable action to make our children safer,” McAuliffe said.
The McLean businessman suggested a relatively simple step would be to pass legislation to help localities provide School Resource Officers for elementary schools that request it.
“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,” McAuliffe said. “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 suggested the cost to fund such a program would be manageable considering that many schools sharing facilities may already be covered and federal funds may be available.
McAuliffe noted that Gov. Bob McDonnell has said he will order a comprehensive review of school safety and look forward to its conclusions and suggested the addition of the SRO officers would be a simple and cost-effective measure that could be quickly enacted.
According to the Virginia School Resource Officer Program, as of 2007 (the most recent year they have posted), 95% of Virginia high schools and 74% of Virginia middle schools were served by School Resource Officers. Only 1% of elementary schools were covered.
The man McAuliffe seeks to replace, meanwhile, thinks things might have turned out differently in Sandy Hook if the school principal had been toting firearms. McDonnell said he thought it would be a “reasonable discussion” to talk about arming teachers and principals.
Rep. Connolly said he was “appalled” at McDonnell’s remarks.
â€œI am appalled at Governor McDonnellâ€™s reaction to the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. When he talked about the principal and other administrators in the school lacking training in guns and not possessing guns on premises, which happens to be a violation of Connecticut law, he was, in fact, blaming the victims,” he said.
“The Governor is actually implying that this heroic principal, who gave her life to protect the children in her care, was somehow inadequate, that she could have done more.”
â€œEven the NRA hasnâ€™t gone this far. Governor McDonnellâ€™s statements were outrageous and insensitive.
â€œThe Governorâ€™s comments echo exactly what my far-right Republican opponent said in the campaign two years ago about Virginia Tech — that if only the students had been â€˜packing heatâ€™ they might have prevailed and survived — and my opponent was rightfully and roundly condemned by the victims of that terrible tragedy,â€ Connolly concluded.