Can Teachers, as Special Conservators of the Peace, Possess Firearms on Public School Grounds?
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring has issued an opinion concluding that the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) cannot issue registration for armed Special Conservators of the Peace (SCOP) to public school teachers and personnel. This opinion arose from a Virginia School Board's effort to secure authorization for teachers and staff to carry firearms on school grounds. In general, it is illegal to knowingly possess firearms on school property. The General Assembly has recognized certain exceptions to this rule for Student Resource Officers (SROs), School Security Officers (SSOs) with certain law enforcement experience, and "conservators of the peace" like judges, criminal investigators, and other criminal justice personnel. There is no exception for SCOPs, which are distinct from "conservators of the peace," to carry firearms on public school grounds. Furthermore, SCOPs have not passed stringent training requirements like other members of law-enforcement. Thus, Attorney General Herring concluded that the DCJS has no authority to issue registration to arm school personnel as SCOPs.
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