Gilbert introduces school safety bill

todd-gilbertDel. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) has announced that he has filed House Bill 2277 which would give Virginia school systems more flexibility in how they choose to protect our children in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting and other school massacres around the nation.

The bill would change the definition of “school security officer” to refer only to qualified former and retired law enforcement officers who would provide armed security at schools, including elementary schools. These officers would maintain training and weapon proficiency standards as required by law. The bill also expands the School Resource Officer Grants Program and Fund to include these officers as an option for school systems and law enforcement agencies to qualify for state aid in their efforts to secure our schools.

“We need to give our local schools and law enforcement some meaningful tools to ensure the safety of our children as each individual community sees fit,” Gilbert said. “It has always been my belief that the so-called “gun free zones” that we have created in our society have only incentivized evil and crazed gunmen to prey upon the most vulnerable at places where they are least able to defend themselves. This bill will go a long way toward giving localities the option of putting trained and experienced professionals in positions to stop violent threats to our children.

“When I was in high school, many of my classmates had their guns displayed, without incident, in the gun racks of their trucks in the school parking lot. Our culture has changed, and not for the better. For some people, when school shootings began to occur in our nation the route to school safety was to tell law-abiding people that they could no longer possess firearms there. Of course, that did absolutely nothing to stop crazed gunmen bent on mass murder and suicide. Until we are willing to admit that such policies are dangerous folly, our schools need to have the tools to defend our children.

“Most law enforcement officers are able to retire at a relatively young age and want to continue to work. They already have a skill set that is a perfect fit for our school security needs. Because they are retired and can be employed as part-time or hourly staff, this will provide a much more cost effective alternative to a full-time School Resource Officer for whom a locality would have to pay benefits and retirement contributions. It is my hope that this idea will be part of any immediate discussion about how best to keep our children safe at school.”

Augusta Health Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press