December 21, 2012
It's never been easier for teachers in Central Virginia to get guns. Local National Rifle Association members are offering free certification classes for all school officials, in a push to put weapons in the classroom.
"Any school official, principal, or teacher that wants to come and learn how to safely handle and operate a concealed weapon, we will train them at no cost whatsoever to them," said Bill Davis, an NRA-certified trainer in handgun safety.
Governor Bob McDonnell first proposed arming teachers earlier this week. The Vice President of the NRA called for armed security guards in each of America's schools in a press conference Friday. Albemarle County school officials are weighing in on the discussion.
"We are open to all ideas to keep children safe at school," said Dr. Matthew Haas, assistant superintendent at Albemarle County schools. When asked about arming teachers, Haas said, "We tend to look toward evidenced based practices and we don't really have any evidence right now that shows that having more firearms in schools will promote safety."
Experts say evidence shows additional security measures don't improve school safety. Instead, the more effective approach is through prevention
"Since the Columbine shooting, schools have spent millions of dollars on security measures but scientific evidence shows those security measures have not had a strong if any impact on improving school safety or climate in our schools," said Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia. "I think it would be far more effective to improve student support services in our schools with counselors and psychologists and additional training for teachers."
But Davis says teachers with weapons would be the last line of defense to protect students in the case of a school shooting.
"They may not save everyone, but I think they can save quite a few lives."
Albemarle County and Charlottesville City School officials are in the process of planning a joint community forum to discuss safety measures in schools.