VIRGINIA

Gun control debate: Many Virginia voters want guards in schools

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A survey of voters in a Quinnipiac University poll overwhelmingly say that they'd support placing an armed officer in every school in the Commonwealth in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac University poll, which covered a wide range of topics from gun control to President Barack Obama's handling of the fiscal cliff negotiations, indicates that 66 percent of voters would support having an armed guard in schools. Meanwhile, 92 percent of those polled want the Commonwealth to enact background checks for people who buy firearms at gun shows.

"Virginians, by a slight margin, are in favor of more gun control," Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of the school's Polling Institute, said. "The idea of stationing armed police in public schools, which many nationally have ridiculed, is favored by two out of three Virginians."

Daniel Chestnutt of Falls Church says the Sandy Hook shooting convinced him police are needed at schools in the event of a violent attack.

"If there's somebody there, they will be there quicker than someone a few miles away," Chestnutt said.

But Jenny Weisnerg of Vienna countered the answer to school violence is not more police or guns.

"I don't think it's appropriate," she added. "I think it sends the wrong message to children. That they need people with guns to protect them in their place of learning."

The survey also found an assault weapons ban is favored by Virginians - 58 percent to 39 percent.

Governor Bob MdConnell has floated the idea of having armed officers in all schools and also formed a safety task force to review school safety statewide.

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman is a member of the task force.

Chapman said, "I can't think of anything more important than the safety of our kids."

Chapman added school resource officers are a great benefit to keep schools safe and much more.

"Everybody gets to know each other better, and they're not just the law but a resource if there's an issue or problem," he explained.

Results from the poll also show support for a national ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but opposition to allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons in classrooms.

You can read all of the poll results below:

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