New Spin on Old Gun Law Back-Fires in Valley

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

Tony Pearson, a senior at Harrisonburg High, says he feels pretty safe at school. But he was surprised to hear about a new spin on an old gun law which allows unloaded firearms on school property.

A bill passed unanimously in the Virginia General Assembly says weapons can be kept in locked vehicle trunks. But School Superintendent John Kidd says the Rockingham County School Board policy still stands.

"The school board policy is very clear. No guns on school property and that's a very clear safety issue for us," Kidd says.

Under the new law, he says if a student does have a weapon in a locked trunk, that student can only be suspended or expelled ... not criminally prosecuted.

The sheriff's office says easy access; the potential for unlimited weapons and no restrictions on the placement of ammunition are definite concerns.

Sgt. Felicia Glick of the Rockingham Co. Sheriff Department says, "Once you have that trunk open, it could be a matter of seconds before you put that shell or magazine into that weapon."

Delegates Weatherholtz and Saxman are calling the amended law a non-controversial issue. But Kidd says it just makes it harder to ensure the safe schools that the new "No Child Left Behind" legislation is requiring.

"The school board is very concerned about safety at schools and we don't like to take steps backwards and quite frankly, I think we're taking a step backward with this law," he says.

One hand gun has been found on school property in Rockingham County in the past year.

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