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Bedford Co. Supervisors Asking State to Let Teachers Carry Guns - abc27 WHTM

Bedford Co. Supervisors Asking State to Let Teachers Carry Guns

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UPDATE: 5:38 p.m.

Bedford, VA – In light of the Sandy Hook shooting last December, the Bedford County Board of Supervisors will ask leaders in Richmond to allow teachers to carry guns.

Right now the only person armed inside Jefferson Forest High School is the school resource officer.

"A school resource office can't be all over that campus at the same time," said Supervisor John Sharp.

Sharp wasn't willing to fund an SRO in every Bedford County School. Now, at Sharp's suggestion, the supervisors will ask the General Assembly to allow public school teachers and other school employees to carry guns in schools.

"If it is well known that a teacher in Bedford County might be armed, then I doubt we would ever have a problem in Bedford County Schools," Sharp said. "Many teachers would not choose to do this, but we have a few that already have concealed carry permits who would be more than happy to carry."

School board Vice Chair Julie Bennington says the school board hasn't heard from a single teacher who wants to carry a gun to school.

"That is not something that I wish our teachers to take on at all," Bennington said. "Their job is to educate our students and prepare them to go out into the community, in the workforce, not to carry guns and protect."

"They may have the concealed weapon permit, and have gone through that class, but they may not know the exact thing to do in a situation."

Bennington says the school board also never heard from the Board of Supervisors prior to Monday decision that would ultimately affect school policy.

"They may have the concealed weapon permit, and have gone through that class, but they may not know the exact thing to do in a situation," Bennington said.

Sharp says even if the General Assembly lets the decision be made locally, the school board would have the final say.

"This legislative priority is not about Bedford County choosing to arm our teachers. It's about asking Richmond to stop disarming them," Sharp said.

ABC 13 spoke with Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown Tuesday afternoon.

Brown was the one who asked supervisors to pay for more resource officers.

Sheriff Brown says if the General Assembly sees fit to allow teachers to carry guns, he'd want the teachers to be trained to the same standards as law enforcement officers.

ABC 13 also talked to an NRA certified firearms instructor about what is required to get carry concealed in Virginia. Vernie Kennedy recommends an even higher level of training than what the state says you must have just to get a concealed carry permit.

Kennedy is certified by the NRA to teach people how to safely handle guns and he always takes students out to the range to fire them. His classes are just one route to a concealed carry permit.

In Virginia, you can take an online course. You could even go apply for a permit with your middle school hunters' safety certificate. You don't even fire a weapon to get either of those, but they can still be used to show you know what you're doing to get a permit.

"I definitely think you should take a class that does have live fire. Of course I am a hunter ed instructor, teach a lot of hunter ed. It's accepted. I do not recommend it. Most of the instructors, coordinators do not. Actually we don't talk about handguns. It's more about hunting," Kennedy said.

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Bedford, VA – The Bedford County Board of Supervisors will ask the General Assembly to review legislation that would allow properly trained teachers and school administrators to carry guns in school.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of Supervisor John Sharp's proposal Monday night. The board previously denied Sheriff Mike Brown's request to put a resource officer in every elementary school.

The school board chairman says teachers aren't asking to carry guns and the school board was not consulted.

Hear from Sharp and School Board Vice Chair Julie Bennington on ABC 13 News at 5.

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