Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, in which the deadly 2007 Virginia Tech shootings took place, issued an executive order Monday creating a school safety task force and directing Cabinet secretaries and all the school divisions in the state to examine previous safety audits.
Mr. McDonnell was serving as the state’s attorney general when the April 2007 shootings took place. Thirty-three people died, including gunman Seung-Hui Cho.
Mr. McDonnell said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” that limiting the sale of assault rifles or the sale of clips to private citizens — ideas being floated on Capitol Hill — isn’t “the first place you look.”
In the wake of Friday’s shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school, Mr. McDonnell cautioned against taking action without all the facts and making decisions that might not actually solve the problem.
Mr. McDonnell did seem open to having more armed security in schools, saying, “I think we need to do whatever’s necessary to fit the threat.”
“Could that have prevented something like what happened in Sandy Hook? Possibly, but unfortunately we don’t have all the facts now,” he said. “But I do think we — and I’ve got five children. They’ve all graduated from public schools in Virginia. You know, my wife and I sat sobbing in front of that TV Friday night looking at these parents grieving for these little kids with little bullet-riddled bodies. And it’s unfathomable that some human being could do that in modern America, and yet we’ve had a couple — one in Virginia, one here. So I think we need to look at school safety. Mental health, obviously, seems to be a big part of what happened here. And then when we get the facts, make prudent, reasonable decisions.”
Mr. McDonnell pointed out that Cho legally purchased his firearms and had no prior record. The governor also noted that after Virginia Tech, he worked with then-Gov. Tim Kaine, who issued an executive order saying that anyone with a court order to receive involuntary mental health care is barred from purchasing firearms.