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Two students back delegates' gun bills
Andrew L. Goddard, presdent of the Richmond Chapter
BOB BROWN/RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH
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By CHELYEN DAVIS
RICHMOND--Their bills are dead, but two delegates yesterday took a last shot at publicizing what they say is a major policy question--the barring of concealed weapons from college campuses.
Dels. Bob Marshall and Todd Gilbert, Republicans from Manassas and Woodstock, respectively, both had legislation that would have allowed the carrying of concealed weapons on campuses by those who have permits.
Marshall's bill focused on professors, while Gilbert's applied to anyone with a concealed carry permit.
Both bills were left in committees without getting a hearing, something that angered Marshall and Gilbert. Marshall has also been prevented by other delegates from attaching his bill as an amendment to other bills.
They held a press conference on the last day bills could be heard in committee to bring attention to the issue.
Many public colleges in Virginia bar students and faculty from carrying guns on campus. Gilbert says the schools have no right to do so without the General Assembly's authority. He and Marshall believe that allowing students and faculty to carry guns could potentially stop future school shootings.
Gilbert mentioned several school shootings in which someone else who had a gun used it to stop the shooter.
"The only person who should ever feel safe in a gun-free zone is the deranged killer," Gilbert said.
With the legislators were two students who are members of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a national group.
One was University of Mary Washington student Logan Metesh.
At 19, Metesh is too young to get a concealed carry permit. But, he said, he would feel safer on campus if he knew other students or faculty were armed.
"People who don't attend that school can come on campus and carry concealed. Why can't I?" Metesh asked. "It's a common-sense piece of legislation, it needs to be done, it saves lives."
Behind the legislation is the specter of last April's shootings at Virginia Tech.
A panel that did an extensive review of the Tech shootings declared in its report that had other students been armed, it could have led to more chaos and possible accidental shootings.
Gilbert dismissed that as "a gratuitous and frankly shameful exercise in political correctness."
"That's purely based on emotion it's not based on logic or reason," he added.
A student who was injured in the Tech shootings, Colin Goddard, and his father, Andrew, were at yesterday's press conference. Andrew Goddard said he opposes both delegates' bills, although he thought they should have gotten a committee hearing.
Goddard thinks the state should focus its efforts on preventing access to guns, not arming teachers.
"Once a deranged person gets in a situation with a gun in their hand, you've already lost," he said.
Chelyen Davis: 804/782-9362