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Last year, in the House of Delegates, I introduced HB8, a bill to allow veterans to defend our children.  The bill passed the House and died in a Senate committee on education.  I am writing about this because protecting the safety of our children at school is a top legislative priority of mine and I think the public discussion needs to continue on the importance of HB8 and why it needs to come back next year.

First, let me explain how we protect our children. The Virginia Code allows for two types of armed security in public schools- SRO’s and SSO’s.  An SRO is a sworn police officer.  An SSO is a former or retired police officer.  Both are allowed, under law, to possess a firearm inside a school building. Other than sworn law enforcement and some DCJS certified security officers, there is no other exception for individuals to carry a firearm in a school building.

The problem with SRO’s defending schools is simple – there are not enough police to be police right now. Last year, Virginia Beach had to pull SRO officers out of schools to do basic police work because of extreme shortages.   Also, there are not enough “former” police officers to be SSO’s. So, I proposed to expand the pool of “who” could be an SSO to certain veterans which is a very large pool of candidates in Virginia.

Had HB8 passed and become law, any veteran protecting our children would have to undergo the same DCJS training as law enforcement officers are required to complete. SSO’s would still have to pass background checks and be deemed service ready by current standards.

Why HB8 was important is because our schools are not protected.  If you go into a courthouse, there are single entry points, metal detectors and multiple armed law enforcement officers in the building. When you go to a school, we protect our children with a sign on the door that says “no guns”.  Elementary schools have no armed security, and middle and high schools may have 1 police officer on campus.  HB8 would have allowed schools flexibility in supplementing school protection by engaging with those who have already served and protected us in the military and who was honorably discharged. It would have created thousands of job opportunities for local veterans, who I know many would be honored to serve in the capacity of protecting a school, and would have taken pressure off of understaffed police forces to allow reallocation of SRO’s to other duties.

HR8 was a good bill and it should have passed. It did not primarily because Democrats hate the concept of anyone having guns in schools… even police. We have to reject this philosophy. Our children deserve to be protected and with recent events, no school in any neighborhood at any grade level is immune from the threats of a school shooting.

I hope to have your support for my senate run. I have many ideas on how to make Virginia better, but this is a top priority and is a primary reason I want to return to the General Assembly as a senator for Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

Please tell your friends who live in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach to vote for me. Early voting is underway and can be done at the local registrar office in Chesapeake or Virginia Beach and election day is June 20 at your normal voting location.  To vote in this primary, you must live in Senate 19. Click here to see if you live in Senate 19 for the November election (go to senate and click the “new in 2024” tab).

Tim Anderson


Author: Tim Anderson


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