RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The devastating massacre at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school is renewing debate over gun control and school safety across Virginia.
Both Republican and Democrat lawmakers are calling the mass shooting an evil act, but they’re divided on how the government should respond.
U.S. senator Tim Kaine said the push to ban assault weapons and require universal background checks faces an uphill battle in Congress.
“It’s a wound that can’t heal until we do something,” Kaine said. “Why should an 18-year-old be able to buy weapons of this lethality?”
Many republicans are focused on furthering school safety. One bill shows 705 Virginia schools, or 38%, don’t have a school resource officer.
Governor Glenn Youngkin’s push to put one in every school is now watered down — a disappointment for Republican senator Bill DeSteph.
“If we don’t fund a school resource officer in every school it’s not enough,” DeSteph said.
But, Democratic senator Jennifer McClellan said mental health resources should be top priority.
“We need to address security, but we also need to address the underlying mental health needs of our students, which we’re not doing,” McClellan said.
Gov. Youngkin wants $50 million more in the budget for school resource officer grants, but it’s not clear if that will make it into the final plan.