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Virginia Lawmakers Vote Down Use of Pepper Spray, Stun Guns by School Guards

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Virginia lawmakers this week voted down a plan that would have allowed schools to equip their unarmed guards with non-lethal weapons like stun guns and pepper spray.

As I wrote here previously, the bill's sponsor believed such weapons would help guards ward off school intruders. But opponents, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration, feared the weapons may be used on students. They also criticized a lack of a training requirement in the bill.

Virginia's Senate Health and Education Committee voted down the bill, winning cheers from groups like the Legal Aid Justice Center.

"The Senate committee's decision rightfully stops a misguided effort to arm school employees with dangerous weapons that would negatively impact the school environment and potentially harm students," Angela Ciolfi, legal director of the JustChildren Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center, said in a statement. 

"Overly punitive policing strategies decrease school safety. Tasers, pepper sprays and batons cause serious health problems and have no place in our schools. Virginia should direct resources toward measures that create a safe and positive school climate. We must train school security and resource officers in de-escalation techniques that lessen reliance on force to break up fights and that actually reduce injuries to officers."

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