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01/10/2013 02:28 pm ET

Virginia Gun Poll Finds 66 Percent Want Armed Officers In Schools

WASHINGTON -- Two out of three Virginia voters support placing police officers with guns in schools, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

The poll found that 66 percent of Virginia voters favor armed police officers in schools, while 29 percent oppose such a security measure. The issue has gained new prominence since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last month that killed 26 people, including 20 children.

Virginia voters also support stricter gun control laws, including 58 percent who favor a national assault weapons ban and 59 percent who favor banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, such as those used by Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza.

"Virginians, by a slight margin, are in favor of more gun control, but they don't seem to fit nicely into either camp in the gun debate following the Newtown school massacre," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Public debate accelerated after Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the Fairfax, Va.-based National Rifle Association, suggested future attacks like Sandy Hook could be averted by placing armed guards in schools.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said in a Dec. 21 press conference, just one week after the Newtown shooting. He also called on Congress to appropriate "whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school."

LaPierre's recommendation has been meet with heavy criticism, including from Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D), who spoke against the idea in his State of the State address Wednesday.

"More guns are not the answer. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher, and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom," Malloy said.

The Obama administration continues to weigh its options on gun control legislation, but has called for "meaningful action." Vice President Joe Biden, who was tapped by the president to lead a gun policy task force, said Thursday he will make his recommendations early next week.

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