Governor Terry McAuliffe today vetoed legislation that would permit school security officers to carry firearms under certain conditions. The Governor’s full statement is below:
April 6, 2016
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1234, which permits school security officers to carry firearms under certain conditions.
There are important distinctions between school security officers and school resource officers, specifically involving the type of training they receive that would prepare them to carry and use firearms. School resource officers are employees of a local law enforcement agency who are detailed to local schools and are permitted to carry firearms in the course of their duties. These officers receive significant and ongoing training. School security officers, on the other hand, are civilian employees of a school division who do not receive training regarding firearms or the appropriate use of force with juveniles. Allowing additional firearms in schools without appropriate training would create an environment that is less, rather than more, secure.
Additionally, the bill fails to distinguish between an individual who retired recently or 20 years ago, nor does it distinguish between an individual who retired from a Virginia law enforcement agency or from an out-of-state agency with vastly different training requirements. This raises questions about the uniformity of previous training these individuals received.
We must do all we can to keep Virginia’s students and schools safe. In order to achieve that goal, it is essential that only trained, active law enforcement officials be authorized to carry firearms in schools. This bill would expose schools and students to unnecessary risk and potential harm by allowing individuals without adequate training to carry firearms on school grounds.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.
Terence R. McAuliffe