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School safety: should students be screened for weapons before school?

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Lawmakers are about to debate efforts to keep schools safe in an era of school shootings.

Should public schools in Virginia be required to screen students for guns before they walk into the classroom? Delegate-elect Tim Anderson is a Republican from Virginia Beach who has introduced a bill requiring anybody entering a school building to be screened with a handheld metal detector wand.

"Unfortunately, the majority of school shooters are students," says Anderson. "And until we acknowledge the fact that there's no law that we can pass that's going to stop a kid from bringing a gun to school, the only way we are going to stop them is to intercept them at the doors."

School board members say schools across Virginia are already stretched thin, and paying for that kind of security screening at every school building would be a huge financial strain.

Fairfax County School Board member Karl Frisch says making sure parents know the law on safe gun storage would be a more effective way of addressing gun violence.

"You can't just abandon the idea that that is unpreventable. It's not," says Frisch. "You can make sure that every parent in the Commonwealth knows that Virginia law says that they cannot keep their guns in a way that children would have access to them."

Lawmakers will be considering Anderson’s bill when the General Assembly session begins in mid-January.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.