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Virginians back assault weapon ban, armed guards in schools

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno,Gun Control

RICHMOND -- Virginia lawmakers may be split over how to prevent gun violence in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, but Virginians are pretty clear what they want: more cops, fewer guns.

Two-thirds of Virginians favor posting armed police officers in every school, and almost as many - 60 percent - support bringing back a state law limiting handgun purchases to just one a month, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday. The Republican-controlled General Assembly voted to abolish the handgun limit last year.

About six in 10 residents believe a national ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, like the one President Obama has proposed, is a good idea, and 62 percent agreed that allowing people to own assault weapons makes for a more dangerous society.

An overwhelming 92 percent believe lawmakers should close the loophole that allows people to purchase firearms from gun shows without getting a background check.

Still, firearms aren't a top priority for voters, and 64 percent said they could vote for candidates who didn't share their views on gun control.

The survey comes in the wake of a school shooting last month in Newtown, Conn., that left 27 dead, including 20 first-grade students. The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, used an AR-15 rife to shoot more than a hundred rounds in just minutes before taking his own life with a handgun. The guns were purchased legally by his mother, who Lanza also killed.

Gov. Bob McDonnell alluded to the tragedy in his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday, but did not mention gun control. Instead he focused on mental health, which 29 percent of Virginians believe is the best way to prevent future tragedies. Twenty-seven percent said putting more cops in classrooms was the best method and 24 percent said an assault weapon ban would be more effective.

In the aftermath of the massacre, McDonnell indicated a willingness to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom but two-third of Virginians say that's a bad idea.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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