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Should Virginia teachers be allowed to bring guns into the classroom?

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As concern over school shootings increases, some say teachers should be able to bring guns to the classroom.

In Virginia, law enforcement officials are the only people allowed to carry guns into schools. But some firearms advocates say Virginia should join the two dozen other states that allow people who are not police or security officials to carry guns into schools.

Philip Van Cleve at the Virginia Citizens Defense League says Utah has the best model.

"In Utah, anyone with a concealed handgun permit can carry in a school – anybody," Van Cleve says. "That could be a teacher, could be staff, could be an air-conditioner repairman, could be a visiting parent."

Paul Friedman at Safer Country says adding more guns to schools is not the answer to gun violence.

"I think it's fair to say that we would not be expecting teachers or air conditioner repairmen to be going to the kind of SWAT training they would need to deal with the intensity of firing a weapon among school children," Friedman says. "That's a highly dangerous situation, one in which we can expect more often than not bad things to happen."

According to the most recent federal data, about 3% of public schools have armed faculty. Right now, none of those schools are in Virginia. But that could change after the next election, when all 140 members of the House and Senate will be on the ballot in 2023.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.