Gun rights group questions school's message to parents - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Gun rights group questions school's message to parents


When is it okay for someone to have a weapon on school grounds? A gun rights group is questioning a Chesterfield principal's answer. It all started after a student was arrested for having a knife. That led to the principal sending a warning to parents. That warning is now causing controversy.

There is no question everyone wants schools to be safe. Perhaps, that's the message the principal at Thomas Dale was trying to send when she sent out an email to parents, but gun rights advocates say she left out one point.

The email is clear and direct. Principal Pam Lumsden writes, "It is important that we remind our students about what is not appropriate to be brought onto school property…Parents are reminded as well that weapons are not allowed in vehicles...."

"It was misleading," Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League said.

Turns out, parents can have guns on school grounds according to Virginia law. If you have a concealed carry permit, your concealed hand-gun can be anywhere inside your car-- even on a parking lot of a school. If you don't have a permit, the gun would have to be in a firearms rack or in a closed container like a glove box or console. But in no case, can you ever bring the gun outside of the car into the school.

At Shibley's BBQ near Thomas Dale, there's mixed reaction.

"With the schools currently having the issues that they have, it would be supportable to say you shouldn't have a gun on school property…I'm for gun rights for anyone that wants to carry one but I think there's a right place and a wrong place to have it," said Jean Lohr.

"Think of all the people who had been killed when there wasn't a gun there to defend the people that got killed," David Lohr argued.

That's Van Cleave's argument too and he wants the school to offer a correction.

"There's no point in deceiving anybody be it accidentally or on purpose. I'm not saying they did it on purpose but either way they mislead a bunch of people and they need to correct that," he said.

"Providing a safe, supportive and nurturing learning environment remains one of the top priorities of all of our schools. We work diligently with our staff and local law enforcement to accomplish that goal. With very limited exceptions, weapons are not allowed on school property," Timothy Bullis with Chesterfield Schools said in an email.

Van Cleave says he's now working to see those limitations lifted. He wants to see guns allowed inside Virginia schools.

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