Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to talk about arming teachers; fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling thinks it's a dumb idea. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, says "enough is enough" and presses to pass some gun control laws. A well-placed Virginia counterpart in Congress says no way and vows to oppose any new measures.
If anyone in Virginia hoped for a unified legislative response following the massacre of 26 in a Connecticut elementary school, the schizophrenic policy debate that emerged among state lawmakers last week made it abundantly clear that, well, it wasn't happening.
Warner kicks things off with a call Dec. 17 for "rational gun control." A day later, McDonnell takes the conversation in the other direction when he wonders out loud whether more guns in schools might prevent future shootings, suggesting the state should consider arming educators.
"If a person [such as Sandy Hook's principal] was armed and trained, could they have stopped the carnage?" McDonnell says during his weekly call-in radio show. "Perhaps."
The response is swift and largely negative. Even Bolling, a McDonnell booster for years, says he doesn't support the idea. Democrats are even more outspoken, noting that if "teachers wanted to carry guns in order to do their jobs, they would have become policemen."
Still, state Republicans have drafted two bills, one that would require some school officials to carry firearms and a second that falls in line with the National Rifle Association's call for armed security gaurds in all schools.
Back on the national front, Warner, who carries an A rating from the NRA, is countered in his calls for limiting the capacity of magazines for assault weapons by Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, of Roanoke, who says he'll do what he can next year to block any new gun control measures in his capacity as the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over firearms legislation.
To top it all off, a former governor from Pennsylvania steps in to raise the level of discourse with some name calling. Ed Rendell derides McDonnell as a "coward and a wuss" for refusing to answer questions about whether he thinks Americans should have access to high-capacity magazines.