Public speaking and interaction is part of their job, and Virginia Del. Dickie Bell says elected officials don't often give a lot of thought to personal safety.
"I want the public who comes to our meetings, my constituents, to feel comfortable there," says Bell. "I don't want them to be intimidated by a show of security force."
Even after the shooting in Arizona, Bell says he doesn't plan to step up security.
"I refuse to have the place manned with police officers when we're just trying to get the public to come listen to us and have us listen to them," adds Bell.
As the General Assembly returns to work this week, Bell says the tragedy in Tuscon will no doubt weigh on the minds of many delegates.
"I wouldn't be surprised if someone who does feel like it's a problem brings forth some legislation, or we at least have some dialogue about it," comments Bell.
He says mandating security precautions might be going too far, too fast.
"I just don't think that we want to overreact," adds Bell. "I don't think we want to pass legislation on a knee-jerk reaction."
He says he and his colleagues are upset and alarmed by the attack in Arizona, but can't be intimidated.
"I suppose it could happen," comments Bell. "I'd like to think it never would. But, you just can't operate in fear, for fear of something like that taking place."
© Copyright 2013 WHSV / Gray Television Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.