School Board Fired Up Over Gun Issue

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

"Folks, I think it's dangerous. I just think it's dangerous."

Those were the concerned words of Rockingham County School Board Superintendent Dr. John Kidd at Tuesday's school board meeting.

The board is fired up about a change in Virginia law, which allows unloaded firearms in the locked trunks of vehicles on school property. The law conflicts with a county that wants to keep its school grounds gun-free.

And though there can now be no criminal consequence for violators, the board says it will go beyond state law to push for civil consequences like expelling students.

At the meeting, members voted unanimously to not change their zero tolerance policy for guns on school property.

"It's just all too easy to walk out to the car and get it and go back into the school," says school board member Lowell Fulk.

But Columbine fears aside, Virginia law does allow for certain people to have certain weapons under certain conditions at public schools. House Bill 2763 passed this year just clarifies that one of those certain conditions is a "closed container" like a locked vehicle trunk.

Legislators say the bill is non-controversial. It passed unanimously in the Virginia General Assembly. And one local delegate says it may even make our schools safer.

Glenn Weatherholtz says before, the law was ambiguous and might have allowed the interior of a locked vehicle to pass for a closed container for a visible weapon. He says locking firearms in a vehicle trunk is a smart move.

"Out of sight, out of mind," he says.

But out of schools is what the Rockingham County School Board is demanding. Delegate Weatherholtz says those who come to school with violence on their minds, won't listen to the rules anyway.

"They're going to bring it to school whether you have this law on the books or not," he says.

The law goes into effect July 1.


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