Hanover schools’ code of student conduct is mostly what you would expect — it defines things like bullying and gangs and lays out expectations for student conduct on school grounds. But one item you wouldn’t expect to see on it is permitting shotguns in school buildings.
For an unknown amount of time, shotguns were not listed along with other firearms like pistols and revolvers under “weapons” in Hanover’s student code of conduct, which families receive a copy of each year.
“I think it’s concerning and creates some ambiguities that we allow certain types of weapons and not others,” said School Board Attorney Yvonne Gibney.
In fact, for a while, shotguns were not listed as “destructive devices” in the code of student conduct. However, at the July 8 meeting, the board approved a change to the division’s code of student conduct to include shotguns under listed weapons.
At the school board’s June 10 meeting, Gibney brought forward some proposed changes to the division’s code of conduct including the one that now prohibits shotguns in buildings.
Gibney said that all weapons can be just as dangerous and that this change would ensure the safety of all students on school grounds.
“I think it’s an important step in achieving that goal,” she said.
Although the division is working to change its code of conduct, shotguns are currently exempt in the Code of Virginia’s list of prohibited weapons, Gibney said. But, she said the school division has the ability to create stricter rules and requirements imposed on schools.
Gibney said school administrators initiated changing the division’s code regarding this.
“They don’t want to allow weapons on the property,” she said.
She added that those individuals were concerned with the safety of students with shotguns being allowed in schools and wanted to focus on providing an environment that’s out of harm’s way.
The history of the exception is not officially known. Gibney said she believes that the rule was most likely created for hunting and has been around for some time, but there is not any legislative history for the rule so it is hard to know for sure.
Former Mechanicsville District school board member Glenn Millican Jr. weighed in on the matter, having spent 24 years on the board.
“It makes absolutely no sense,” Millican said.
“I don’t think [weapons] belong in there in any state or fashion,” he added.
Millican said he does not support any type of weapon being permitted on school premises regardless whether the original intent was for recreational use, especially with recent school shootings around the country.
Even as an avid hunter since he was 13 or 14 years old, Millican said there is no need for guns in school buildings.
“They’re dangerous,” he said.