F.C. Vice Mayor Lashes Out Against McDonnell’s ‘Arm Teachers’ Remark

‘Appalling & Incredibly Stupid,’ Snyder Says Of Governor’s Idea

City of Falls Church Vice Mayor David Snyder lashed out at the remarks of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Tuesday, saying that McDonnell’s suggestion that teachers and principals should be armed to prevent Connecticut elementary school-like tragedies “appalling and incredibly stupid.”

Snyder contacted the News-Press to make his remarks, saying they were intended to be on the record. McDonnell’s comments were “unbelievable,” he added.

On the governor’s notion, Snyder said, “More guns lead to more deaths, it’s as simple as that,” saying he is “furious about the descent of our society to incivility and violence.”

He said McDonnell’s remarks represent “an admission of failure beyond comprehension.” Snyder issued a statement on the Connecticut tragedy Saturday noting that the first petition by the Falls Church City Council in its annual wish list for state legislative action was for a ban on firearms in City Hall, the library, community center and parks.

When State Sen. Dick Saslaw and State Del. Jim Scott appeared at the F.C. City Council meeting Monday to accept the wish list, Snyder wrote, “We were basically told to forget about getting that authority…because the regime in Richmond would never agree.”

Snyder added, “Among the recent successes of the gun advocates are measures allowing guns on public property and in bars, repealing limitations on firepower and numbers of firearms, and even preventing employers from security their property against gun violence.

“As a citizen, taxpayer, and public official, I oppose this interference into our civic affairs and hate the fact that our police have to be armed as though they are on a battlefield because, of course, they are. And I don’t think we need any longer to accept that the Second Amendment can be used to trample on the ‘unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'”

Sen. Saslaw was quoted in a press release issued by the Virginia Democratic Party Tuesday reacting to Gov. McDonnell’s comments earlier that day, saying, “And when that fails to stop this, what’s next? Arm the students? If teachers wanted to carry guns in order to do their day job, they would have become policemen.”

With Saslaw on vacation with his family in Hawaii when the incident occurred, Saslaw’s aid Janet Muldoon said, “Sen. Saslaw supports the Second Amendment and believes sportsmen should be able to hunt. At the same time, he does not believe assault weapons should be available to the general public.”

She added, “What does it say when these types of weapons are not used to hunt, but used to obliterate unarmed, innocent victims? It is long overdue to put an end to the choke hold that the Civil Defense League and the NRA have on the General Assembly. Let the debate begin in earnest and let’s include appropriate support for individuals with mental illness and their families seeking help for them.”

When he appeared with Del. Scott at the Falls Church City Council meeting last week, Saslaw said that any legislation introduced about gun control would go to the Military and Police Committee in the House of Delegates “where it would die by an 18-3 vote.” If there were any hint such a bill could clear a committee, he added, the speaker of the House would throw it in the trash can without a hearing.

The vociferous nature of Snyder’s remarks against Gov. McDonnell came despite the fact that both are Republicans.

But Snyder’s opposition to guns in public places goes way back, including to the incident in 2004 when three dozen members and supporters of a Virginia pro-gun rights organizations appeared in the Falls Church City Council chambers, most wearing handguns.

They showed up in force to protest a proposed new City administrative policy at the time calling on City employees to contact police whenever they discovered a person to be wearing a weapon. It was an administrative move to bypass state prohibitions initiated by the late then-City Manager Dan McKeever.

He devised the policy to mitigate the impact of 15 pro-gun lobby laws that had been passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature the previous spring.

While a number of City Council members admitted to being “unnerved” by the show of so many “packing heat” in the Council chambers, Snyder, who’s been on the F.C. City Council since 1994, spoke out singularly at that time.

“There may be places where you need your guns, but let me assure you, Falls Church isn’t one of them.” Saying he supported McKeever’s move, he then stood up and said, “Here I stand and can do no other.”

Following the incident, steps were taken to make the semi-circular dais behind which the seven Council members sit bullet-proof.

Falls Church area Congressman Gerry Connolly weighed in on the gun control issue this Monday with an op-ed in the New York Times entitled, “Politicians With Courage Can Win.”

According to his communications director George Burke, Connolly was invited by the Times to write the piece because the NRA headquarters is located in his 11th Congressional District and because “he dealt firsthand with the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy that took the lives of six local residents.”

Connolly asked in the piece, “Will we finally break the gun lobby spell that has had us in thrall to a psychosis that has left us numb and paralyzed with each new tragedy? I think so. The gun lobby has intimidated us for far too long.”

He added, “Reasonable gun safety measures like rigorous background checks to keep dangerous weapons from criminals and the mentally ill, a ban on the assault-style weapons designed to kill dozens with ease, and stiff penalties for gun owners who fail to secure their weapons have broad public support, even among gun owners and NRA members,” he wrote.

Del. Scott told the News-Press Wednesday that he’s introducing a bill in Richmond next month that would prohibit persons who’ve been slapped with protective orders to cease and desist certain behaviors from owning a gun. Currently, such persons can’t get a gun for as long as a protective order is in effect, but not after a finite period of time has passed.

Scott’s bill would permanently disallow ownership of guns by such persons, since often such matters involve domestic disputes where enmities will continue beyond the expiration of a protective order.