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VA Governor Orders School Safety Review

In wake of Newtown shooting, Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to look at all resources to keep campuses from kindergarten through college safe.

In the wake of Friday's school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has announced a state plan to review school safety in Virginia at all levels.

McDonnell said Monday he plans to identify statewide and locality, school division, college and university resource needs to "ensure that we are doing everything humanly possible to keep our children, young people and educators safe while they are in the classroom."

 "Just as public safety is the bedrock responsibility of government, the safety of our young people must continue to be the top priority in our schools and our campuses," McDonnell said in a statement.

In Fairfax County, there are regular safety and lockdown drills, and there was increased security at all schools Monday.

With the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in mind, McDonnell has requested that Secretary of Education Laura Fornash and Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker work together in evaluating recent safety audits of schools. 

The governor also has established of a task force to review school safety, share best practices and look at challenges. This task force will also give legislative and budget proposals to the McDonnell, according to the statement. More details on the task force will be released next week.

The governor also announced the creation of a new position—a school and campus safety coordinator, which was originally an idea from the Governor's Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the families impacted by this tragedy, and to the teachers, first responders, and all others touched by the events of last Friday," Gov. McDonnell said . "Unfortunately, Virginians have our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and our mourning of those losses continues."

"As a father, I cannot imagine the grief experienced by those in Newtown, Connecticut, as they mourn the loss of their innocent children. ... As a sibling of a career teacher, the recollections of the heroism demonstrated by Sandy Hook Elementary School educators are a stark reminder to me that school personnel must be given all possible training, tools and resources to protect the children in their care."

The governor also told reporters he thought it was too soon to talk about changes to gun policy.

"It's just a couple of days after this horrific, unfathomable tragedy with so many little 6-year-old kids gunned down," he said. "I still can't quite come to terms with it. For me it was too early to start reacting or overreacting with what the right politices might be. There will be time to reflect on that over next 30 days."

Fran Lovaas December 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Not a very intelligent comment to say it's too soon to talk about gun control. Shall we all sit on our hands and wait for the next horrific incident? NOW is the time to take ACTION! Get the assault rifles off the streets and the make guns with multiple bullet clips illegal to help keep them out of the hands of mentally ill. You, Mr. McDonnell, are complicate in these terrible shootings when you decide to take no action, letting the NRA and their ilk hold sway. No civilized Western Nation, except the USA lets their citizenry run around on the streets with assault rifles and guns suitable to arm their own military force. We had over 10,000 killings last year with guns. Compare that with the rest of the Eurpean countries (statistics show none have killings above 100 for a year) and you will be ASTOUNDED at how well gun control can work!
Jonathan Erickson December 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Lose gun free zones and have a discount at weapons dealers for our educators. You are not going to reduce the number of guns availble to the loonnies that would cause harm. Instead arm those best able to protect the public.
Elizabeth December 18, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Oh, Really, Mr. McDonnell? You give a damn about school safety all-of-a-freakin' sudden? Then tell us, SIR, why you have demanded a 5% cut in Public Safety (police force) funding? You are aware, are you not, that the very FIRST cuts will be all the - you guessed it - SRO's (School Resource Officers)? Get off your high horse and start thinking like a human being with some empathy for others... and by "others" I do NOT mean the NRA and all the wealthy special-interests that you favor over just "regular" folks! You are the prime reason I am very glad Virginia is a one-term state.
Fran Lovaas December 18, 2012 at 05:49 PM
That is just not thinking- more guns mean more deaths, especially dealing with guns that can shoot multiple rounds per minute. Plus you have the loonies' element of surprise. Arming all of the educators is SUCH a sad idea. Statistics show that in other countries when you take the guns away you dramatically lower the number of deaths in a country- especially mass executions like this.
joe brewer December 18, 2012 at 06:23 PM
. You are having delusions if you think you are going to take away the guns people now own. Arming the educators is the least that should be done. Not all teachers need to carry only those who choose to. You can't control assault weapons or huge bullet magazines do you actually think background checks and classes are going to keep the deranged at bay? C'mon man! More guns in the hands of the correct people means more bad guys die instead of innocent bystanders.
Susan Turner December 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Gov. McDonnell has now opened discussions on arming teachers and staff in Virginia schools. I urge you to think carefully and to let the governor know directly what you think of this idea.
joe brewer December 18, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Long overdue!
Fran Lovaas December 18, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Dumb idea that can only lead to more deaths of innocent people. We have to start getting the assault weapons and multiple bullet clips off the street. Why do people continue to think that more guns can lead to fewer deaths. Are we all going to war with each other? Other countries can do it, why can't we? All of you Christian Right wingers, do you think Jesus would carry a gun or advocate carrying one? I can't understand the mentality that continues to think that having more lethal weapons around is a good thing. Civilized people do NOT carry armed weapons around.
Fran Lovaas December 18, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Dumb idea!
Carol Lewis December 19, 2012 at 12:16 AM
No one wants to take away all guns, just the assault weapons and the huge magazines that the average citizen doesn't need. And just who decides who the "correct people" are? Isn't that what background checks are all about? More guns means more people die, period.
Susan Turner December 19, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Here is the link - http://www.governor.virginia.gov/aboutthegovernor/contactgovernor.cfm
Joe Brenchick December 19, 2012 at 10:15 AM
The Second Amendment isn't about hunting, it's about a check on government. Those who claim citizens don't need certain types or styles of weapons ignore this fact and try to over simplify the problem with a quick fix knee jerk reaction without considering the unintended consequences. Our society is filled with wolves, sheep and sheepdogs. For a better understanding of this: http://dailycaller.com/2012/03/29/on-sheep-wolves-and-sheepdogs I've been a sheepdog all of my adult life and until the world is populated by angels, there will always be a need for sheepdogs.
Fran Lovaas December 19, 2012 at 12:07 PM
You sir, need help!
Barbara Glakas December 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I agree, to an extent, with what Joe B. said in his first sentence, that the 2nd Amendment was about – at least in part -- a check on government. If you read the Federalist Papers you can see when our government was first being formed that our founders were aware of other new European despotic rulers taking over their countries by force, so they thought having an armed citizenry would help discourage that in our new country. We also did not have a big national army at the time, so they thought having an armed citizenry could be any easy way for each state to quickly form militias so that an army could quickly be formed to protect the country from outside invaders. Lastly, those same state militias were thought to also help each state protect themselves from other invading states. Obviously, times have changed. We no longer have to worry about Georgia invading New Jersey. And we have a national government that – as the founders envisioned and hoped for – is ruled by reason, not by force. And George Washington did not have automatic weapons in 1775. …. (continued)….
Barbara Glakas December 19, 2012 at 12:59 PM
…. (continued) …..I suppose peoples’ interpretation of the Constitution varies, depending on whether one is a strict constructionist or whether one believes it is a “living document,” whereby the founders wrote it in broad and flexible terms to allow it to evolve with the times. Consider what Jefferson once said: “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” We can institute reasonable gun control laws while still respecting the 2nd amendment.
Carol Lewis December 19, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Perhaps, Joe Brenchick, but hunting isn't about assault weapons either. The amendment was written at a time when we were still breaking away from Britain. I just don't see the need for those weapons or the rounds of ammunition.

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