A school board for a rural school district in Virginia unanimously approved a plan that will allow teachers to be armed with guns and staff members to be armed with non-lethal weaponry like pepper spray in order to protect students in the event of an active shooter situation. The plan, which will be put in place for the upcoming school year, will affect all 11 schools in Lee County.
The superintendent, Brian Austin, went on NPR to discuss the plan. He argued that not only was the plan to arm teachers instead of hiring a school resource officer cost-effective, but it is also not the end of school security negotiations for the district. It would cost over half a million dollars for the district to put an officer in each school. The program is also totally voluntary — although about 37 staff members and educators said they were interested in the program. Any teacher who would want to hold a firearm while educating students would have to go through two background checks, a drug screening, and a psychological evaluation.
Virginia is already a state that allows concealed carry, and given how agricultural Lee County is, most educators and people in the community already own and operate guns comfortably. Lee County will join hundreds of school districts across the country that already allow certain school employees to carry guns. As a matter of policy, at least 10 states allow staff members to have a firearm on school campuses, and each district that follows that policy does so differently: in some districts, the firearm must be in a lockbox, in others, it can remain on their person. In 100 school districts in Texas, educators are allowed to carry firearms.