NRA wants armed guards in every school. Will that make schools safer or raise risks?

NOTE: I am moderating all comments to the blog today in response to some of the stuff I was seeing in an earlier post today. Your comment will not appear until I read and approve it.

After its low profile following the Newtown shooting, the NRA today called for armed officers in every school.

“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?” said NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre at a news conference interrupted by a protester holding the sign “NRA is killing our kids.”

He continued: “How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave — while provoking others to try to make their mark?”

LaPierre’s comments brought immediate rebuke: “He envisions a world in which the only way to stop a school shooting is to welcome school shootouts,” opined the New York Daily News.

I suspect the NRA response will also have its advocates, including a reader who sent me a one-word response: “Bravo.”

Here is an excerpt from the AP report on today’s NRA news conference:

The group’s top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said at a Washington news conference that “the next Adam Lanza,” the man responsible for last week’s mayhem, is planning an attack on another school.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said.

He blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture day in and day out.

“In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes,” LaPierre said.

LaPierre announced that former Rep. Asa Hutchison, R-Ark., will lead an NRA program that will develop a model security plan for schools that relies on armed volunteers.

Since the slayings, President Barack Obama has demanded “real action, right now” against U.S. gun violence and called on the NRA to join the effort. Moving quickly after several congressional gun-rights supporters said they would consider new legislation to control firearms, the president said this week he wants proposals to reduce gun violence that he can take to Congress by January.

Obama has already asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would stop people from purchasing firearms from private sellers without a background check. Obama also has indicated he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines.

Earlier this week, the National Association of School Resource Officers sent out this information

MO CANADY, NASRO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: “A well-trained, armed SRO is one of the best defenses against an active shooter. We provide training to school-based police officers on sound tactics that save lives during a shooting attack.

“While an SRO is essential, school safety requires collaboration between multiple agencies and parties. No single group or person, including an SRO, can effectively improve safety alone. We urge involvement by parents, cafeteria staff, janitorial staff, counselors, nurses and even students, as appropriate.”

FAQs

Are SROs trained to deal with armed assailants?

Yes. NASRO provides specialized training to SROs on how to properly respond to an active shooter in a sound way. And while NASRO designed the training for SROs, the organization offers it to all law enforcement officers. The tactics that NASRO teaches would also be effective with armed assailants in other settings, such as shopping centers, offices, etc.

How many schools have SROs? Do elementary schools have them?

SROs are not that common in elementary schools. NASRO has 5,000 members who are SROs and there are many more SROs across the nation. We estimate that there are approximately 10,000 school-based police officers across the country.

Can parents get involved in school security?

NASRO recommends that every school have a security team that includes school administrators, teachers, cafeteria staff, janitorial staff, counselors, nurses, students and parents. Here are some ways parents can be involved:

•Ask for a town-hall style meeting on security. Such meetings allow interested parties to voice concerns, get questions answered, examine new issues, etc. These meetings should occur on a regular basis, not just in response to recent tragedies.

•Gain an understanding of the security policies at your school. Find out if parents were involved in designing the policy.

•Consider serving as a parent member of the security team to help with policies.

•Get to know your school’s SRO, if the school has one.

•If you don’t have an SRO, work with your school’s administrators on ways to get funding for an SRO.

Will the Connecticut school shooting be a catalyst for change, in the same way school security changed after the campus rampages that occurred between 1993-1999?

NASRO hopes so. School security procedures have limitations. Not every school can implement every option that is available. Schools must be safe havens, not prisons, so each school must find the right balance. But we must protect every school from violence in all of its forms. This includes children who bring weapons to school, violent attacks from outsiders, theft, drugs, bullying, etc.

STATS

There were 33 school-associated violent deaths during the 2009-2010 school year. In 2010, among students ages 12 to18, there were approximately 828,000 nonfatal victimizations at schools, including 359,000 victims of violence.

In 2009-2010, 74 percent of public schools recorded one or more violent incidents.

CDC study:

In 2009, 5.6 percent of children nationwide carried a weapon onto school property on at least one day in the 30 days prior to the survey.

Nationwide, 17.5 percent of students had carried a weapon (e.g., a gun, knife, or club) on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

143 comments Add your comment

Edugator

December 21st, 2012
1:18 pm

We have an SRO in middle school. Nice guy, but I’d rather have another reading teacher instead.

Maude

December 21st, 2012
1:38 pm

Yes, every school should have an armed policeman on campus!! Without that all elementary schools are open targets.

Dr. Proud Black Man

December 21st, 2012
1:45 pm

Agree 100% We guard valuable institutions and what’s more valuable than our children. Of course the repubs will never agree to the necessary taxes to ensure the guards are properly trained and staffed. And to the call for “let’s get volunteers” crowd…Zimmerman.

Concerned Parent

December 21st, 2012
1:46 pm

Just curious about one thing. The person who shot those poor kids was wearing a bullet-proof vest, correct? Are these school resource officers trained to perform what would have to be a successful head shot, while the person presumably would be shooting at them with whatever weapon he brought into the school? Many people say that most trained police officers can’t accomplish this kind of shot.
Until there’s actually a PLAN of action, these statements from the NRA can’t be taken seriously.

bootney farnsworth

December 21st, 2012
1:52 pm

an idea long overdue. I wish it didn’t seem necessary, but that cow has left the barn. deal with reality.

will it make the kids safer – probably not. will it make things worse – probably not. but in today’s society, better to have than not.

bootney farnsworth

December 21st, 2012
1:56 pm

@ concerned

and many people would be wrong. however, the obvious answer is to make sure they are carefully trained and screened.

there are many young people who muster out of the military every year who have the sort of real life
training to make strategic decisions at a seconds notice and can make the kind of shot

bootney farnsworth

December 21st, 2012
2:01 pm

and said officer should also be trained out the wazoo on any number of non lethal techniques to subdue nutjobs. and be equip with non lethal weapons like tasers, hard rubber batons, and such.

mifted

December 21st, 2012
2:09 pm

Who pays for this? I must ask. I realize this may be insensitive but school shootings are really rare. We are inable to fund our schools as is.

STHU&STHD

December 21st, 2012
2:10 pm

Police officers are just as venerable to mental illness, depressions, suicide etc. as any other human. There are a lot of stories out there of cops that went bad.

bootney farnsworth

December 21st, 2012
2:12 pm

and I’d not have them undercover. I want them visible for all the world to see.
and a posted notice stating there is armed law enforcement on site.

indigo

December 21st, 2012
2:12 pm

Well, since there is no way guns are going to go away in America, I have no problem with at least two police officers at every school.

In fact, if it were up to me, I’d withdraw every one of our soldiers in Afghanistan and have them guarding our schools.

Any deranged shooter going to a school and facing two combat experienced and armed Marines would either give up quickly or be blown away.

And, no, I don’t like us coming to the point where we might need soldiers guarding our schools.

But, it’s better than another shooting with twenty or more dead children.

bootney farnsworth

December 21st, 2012
2:13 pm

so moderate already :)

indigo

December 21st, 2012
2:14 pm

Parent

Even with a bullet-proof vest, a volly of shots will temporarly disable the wearer.

Rick L in ATL

December 21st, 2012
2:17 pm

We’ve let the media turn this into a gun-control debate before we even finished the school-safety debate. As creepy a figure as Wayne LaPierre is, he’s absolutely right about one thing: when you advertise an area as being a gun-free zone, saying to any armed madman: here’s where you can come to inflict maximum mayhem.

We would never have gone back into the skies after 9/11 if we hadn’t been assured an air marshall with a gun was going to be on each plane to protect us. We could no longer afford for airplanes to be “gun free zones.”

What LaPierre is proposing is an air marshall program for schools. Would you take this action–and pay this price– to avoid seeing another Newtown? I would.

In our lifetimes, we’ll never bring the country to one stance on gun ownership. So why are we wasting so much oxygen on an unsolvable problem? Protect schools now, and let the fringes scream at each other over gun control later.

ABC

December 21st, 2012
2:18 pm

Yes of course what we need is MORE guns in places where small children learn, play, and work. Because it’s not like they are curious about guns or anything. Because it’s not like there couldn’t be an accident or anything. Because it’s not like the current broke school systems couldn’t afford anything but the most moronic nincompoop to patrol school hallways.

Archie

December 21st, 2012
2:19 pm

All people carrying guns in schools should be duly-deputized peace officers with full authority, even if they also happen to be teachers and/or administrators.

Ga Patriot

December 21st, 2012
2:23 pm

There are many veterans returning who have weapons training and skills and no jobs. If he/she were stationed in the parking lot, with surveillance cameras at all the other locked entrances with the surveillance videos available in the car. The security officer can call the police for any suspicious persons approaching the school, for instance, someone with an assault rifle and bullet proof vest.

If a potential terrorist were shot in the leg(s), he would be considerably slowed down before he could get to the children. Idiot.

valerie

December 21st, 2012
2:24 pm

In this day and time, yes all schools including colleges/universities need police officers on campus. Praying all students are safe each day

Centrist

December 21st, 2012
2:28 pm

How about either and armed guard, or a trained, armed volunteer (non-teacher) staff member?

The idea is to deter violent people from striking a defenseless venue.

Pride and Joy

December 21st, 2012
2:28 pm

Well of course the NRA wants more people to have more guns.
More guns equal more money for the NRA.
And that’s all that this is about, money and power.
Is this about safety for kids?
Not a chance.

kate

December 21st, 2012
2:32 pm

This assumes that the lone safety officer/cop would be at the exact spot where a gunman enters. In large/spread out schools such as Sandy Hook, that is unlikely to happen. So I don’t see the logic in the NRA’s “plan” at all.

yuzeyurbrane

December 21st, 2012
2:35 pm

SRO’s seem to be part of the solution but not the whole solution. There is no valid reason for automatic weapons to be in the hands of anyone except law enforcement and the military.

mac d

December 21st, 2012
2:36 pm

NRA wants armed guards in every school.

Oh, you mean in white schools? OK. Got it. Predominantly black schools in inner cities will be business as usual.

Alex Richards

December 21st, 2012
2:38 pm

I usually deplore the positions of the NRA. But they are right on the position of a School Resource Officer at every school.

No one can legislate evil or crazy away. I’m all for more sensible gun control laws but lets not kid ourselves, that alone will not stop school violence. We need to protect the children of this nation. Government and industry sprang to action after 9/11 with air marshals. And they did it FAST. In our society, are business travelers and vacationers more important than our children? Come on.

Please no one tell me it’s a money issue. That’s disgusting in the wake of this newest tragedy. After a quick review, it would appear that there approximately 100,000 public schools in America. A budget for a well trained SRO at each of those schools would total about 5 billion per year. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are about 240 million working Americans. With those numbers, that’s about $21 per year per working American. That’s $1.75 per week to stop most all of this senseless violence against children at schools. For the staunch conservatives that can’t tax anyone, then just shut up and find the money in this budget or find another gig.

There is no absolute and complete fail-safe solution to this issue. But with tigher school security logistics and a trained, armed Resource Officer at each school, no one of right mind can say that schools would not be safer. They would.

We need a leadership voice that knows that this is not a political issue to debate, posture and argue about. Pursue better gun control, develop better vehicles and avenues for awareness and services for mental health issues.

But in the meantime, GOD ALMIGHTY take ACTION! Move to fund and provide School Resource Officers to every school in America. Move like we did when air marshals were almost immediately implemented. There’s no excuse. I’m a proud American, and I’ve never been cynical about our nation. But God help us and our children if we don’t get up off the deck on this issue and ACT NOW. Shame on this nation if we don’t.

gun sense

December 21st, 2012
2:39 pm

@concerned parent

plz dont be so nieve; a head shot really? and no security would not need to carry an assault weapon either. let me explain it very slowly:

If there was an active shooter on campus/workplace/etc… simply returning fire will distract said shooter and if the shooter is hit even with body armor on it could slow or possibly make the shooter flee. If it slows the shooter down or misdirects the shooter away from children that is a good thing until the “good guys” get there.

Texas and other states have had armed “guardians” since 2007 with zero incidents to report

The NRA does have a plan of action: they have stated they will train anyone that wishes it; they have stated that they know it can not be a “one size fits all”; and that each district will need to decide the steps to follow:

its seems some here are missing “gun sense” or is it “they just can’t handle the truth”

for further note: plz go to the NRA website and actually read their plan of action; if there are parts you like/dislike bring that to the attention of your local school board; are lockdowns effective, classroom ACT training, or running from the building be a new plan?

Pardon My Blog

December 21st, 2012
2:39 pm

Maureen, I thought you were monitoring the comments. @Dr. Proud Black Man’s comment is certainly racist and baiting. With regards to armed guards, there is not going to be one right answer unfortunately. I think we should also look at the privacy laws and see if they are protecting the wrong people. Had the professionals at Virginia Tech known more about Cho’s troubled past, perhaps there would not have been that tragedy.

Red Herring!

December 21st, 2012
2:42 pm

How classy (and predictable) of the NRA to use a national tragedy to encourage and enforce the sales of even more guns. I don’t want to live in a militarized society. What we need is less guns, not more. No one needs an assault rifle. They need to go. I know it won’t be easy, but that is the answer.

The school I recently worked at had two SRO’s. They would have been / would be useless if a psychopath broke into the school wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle.

What about all the other massacres that have occurred in theaters, malls, college campuses, post offices, temples, churches, parking lots, public forums… Bringing guns into schools is not the answer; banning assault weapons is. The NRA is diverting attention from the matter at hand. This is not about WHERE, it’s about WHAT.

Terry Tucker

December 21st, 2012
2:49 pm

Growing up we had a police officer on campus Jr High and High School. Eventaully, the Superindendent removed them becuse of cost issues and the Officer actually arrested criminals in the school (bad press)

The NRA essentially called for something that isn’t going to be funded in public schools. Would private schools also be required by law to have police officers?

There also has to be distinction between an armed guard and a trained police officer. They are not the same.

Also in the statement the NRA blamed the media and voilent games and movies (but not guns). Canada has the same movies and games we do but do not have the violence.

Big T

December 21st, 2012
2:49 pm

To Concerned Parent, the deterrent comes from the knowledge that a trained, and armed, SRO is present in the school. That’s all the PLAN we need.

George

December 21st, 2012
2:50 pm

Married with (School) Children

December 21st, 2012
2:53 pm

The NRA also announced that they are “appointing former Arkansas Rep. Asa Hutchinson to lead an effort to develop a cutting-edge model school security plan and a program to train volunteers who would be dispatched to campuses around the country.”

Armed volunteers dispatched to campuses… yeah, that will end well.

LoganvilleGuy

December 21st, 2012
2:57 pm

@Concerned Parent –

All police officers are trained in “failure” drills. This is a head shot after shots to center mass don’t stop an assailant. However, any headshot is EXTREMELY difficult to make unless close. It is especially tough as you have pointed out when you are being shot at.

However, this is where it becomes important to equip officers with patrol rifles. We’ve seen time and time again that suspects are using body armor during violent crimes. If an officer is equipped with a patrol rifle, the body armor won’t matter. Additionally, patrol rifles are more accurate at substantially longer distances than handguns.

scrappy

December 21st, 2012
2:58 pm

Absolutely ridiculous, useless, and will totally not help the problem.
All the ‘lunatic’ with a gun as to do now is surprise the armed guard, kill him first, and then move on to killing dozens of kids just as they have before. So we will still have guns in the hands of people with mental problems, with clips that hold hundreds of bullets, and will still have innocent kids killed.
The NRA is just trying to give people a false sense of hope and/or security that supports their ideaology.

Kujohn

December 21st, 2012
3:00 pm

Did Lapierre take credit for the shooting in Newtown I didn’t hear his speech

catlady

December 21st, 2012
3:02 pm

I also believe we shouldn’t put schools so close together. I’ve been warning about that for 10 years. In my small system, a gunman could take out an elementary school, middle school, and high school in one area, and a primary and elementary school in another. The death toll could encompass virtually every kid in the county from those sites.

Rick L in ATL

December 21st, 2012
3:03 pm

“So why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect our President or our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in their schools?

They’re our kids. They’re our responsibility. And it’s not just our duty to protect them – it’s our right to protect them.” –From LaPierre’s prepared remarks (http://wapo.st/UNyelX)

I think everyone should read the full text of LaPierre’s statement. Before today, I thought of him as an extremist fringe winger. But he has done something important today: he has articulated the problem in front of us, the WHOLE problem, and proposed the only solution that will actually work. Liberals, in the meantime, have done nothing but scream about the need to return to a partial assault weapons ban that had 600 exemptions; a piece of legislative Swiss cheese.

Liberals think that because Obama won by 3%, they’re suddenly on the right side of everything from tax hikes to gun control. But LaPierre just took their lunch money and hung them up on on their school lockers. Ouch.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

December 21st, 2012
3:04 pm

You should NOT be able to buy an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine and ammo at Walmart. NRA is just trying to distract from the issue at hand – a groundswell of support for more comprehensive gun control.

David

December 21st, 2012
3:06 pm

Not sure why I am writting this since Dear Maureen is personally approving all posts and 3 out of 4 that made it agree with her gun control view. However facts are facts, gun control laws and laws that limit access to guns do not make people safer, they take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens but not out of the hands of people who want to do harm. There is no such thing as a good gun, there is no such thing as a bad gun, there are bad people who use guns and they are a danger, there are good people who use guns and they are a threat to nobody other than bad people. I think having an armed officer in schools would be a good thing. Average deaths in violent attacks when you have to wait for police to arrive is just over 18. Average deaths in violent attacks when you have someone there who is armed when it starts is less than 3.

The Deal

December 21st, 2012
3:08 pm

Columbine had an armed SRO on that day. That really helped them.

Coastdog

December 21st, 2012
3:11 pm

He had a black tactical vest used to carry equipment. He did not have on an armored vest.

old man

December 21st, 2012
3:17 pm

I am 56, and I have never shot a gun. Could any of you with experience answer this for me, yes or no:

IS IT FUN TO SHOOT A GUN?

If I knew the answer to this, it would help me develop an opinion on gun control

Do What It Takes

December 21st, 2012
3:17 pm

As an educator, I support the concept of having more armed security at our schools. Obviously, what it would look like would have to vary from school to school based on parent input and perceived threat. I just feel that these kids that are entrusted to us are a treasure, and I want them to be protected. Good lord, I walked into Tiffany & Co. last night and there were 4 uniformed guards plus the doorman who were all armed (Literally. No exaggeration). It didn’t cut back on the welcoming environment of the place, but it sure would change a would-be criminal’s mind in a heartbeat. I want the same presence at our schools. If we can guard inanimate minerals in that way without public outcry, why not our kids?

Lurker

December 21st, 2012
3:17 pm

Concerned Parent,

Ballistic Vests do not stop a bullet from hurting. Most people would be severely stunned by the impact of a bullet on a ballistic vest. I would be something like being hit with a hammer. I don’t know how the perpetrator in this incident would have reacted, but I believe that most people would have been on the ground or at least doubled-over if their ballistic vest was hit with a couple of bullets. An officer would not necessarily need to shoot him in the head to stop him.

A well trained person who is prepared to be shot in the vest, would not have much problem with a single officer. However, a person with such training and such determination to commit harm could probably wreak havoc with no vest and no gun.

old man

December 21st, 2012
3:19 pm

I am 56, and I have never shot a gun. Could any of you with experience answer this for me, yes or no:

Is it fun to shoot a gun?

If I knew the answer to this, it would help me develop an opinion on gun control.

Missgrace

December 21st, 2012
3:21 pm

There is zero evidence that this is a good idea or will work.

Section 236

December 21st, 2012
3:23 pm

Seems like a perfect oppurtunity for all the troops coming home.

shelly

December 21st, 2012
3:27 pm

We protect our President with guns, our brinks money trucks,social security offices, banks and so forth. How much more should we protect our future generations while they are learning. What hypocrisy to leave them with no protections. Had ANY teacher in this latest shooting had a gun I’m sure there would have been more survivors.

jasonfightscrime

December 21st, 2012
3:29 pm

I was an SRO until I was promoted out of the program. It was the best job I’ve ever had.

I think there’s a lot to be said for having one on campus. They make the school a harder target because the shooter will have to contend with an armed person on campus who (assuming the radios work in the building which can be a real problem) should be able to summon help and cooridnate a law enforcement response to an intruder far more effetively than someone calling 911.

An SRO on campus can help prevent school shootings by taking action before it even takes place. Many school shooters warn people about it before the shooting take place. One of the hardest thing is to get kids to come forward with those threats. But when they do come forward, and SRO can play a vital role as part of the threat assement team that can try to figure our whether it is a genuine threat or not. It’s much easier for the SRO to reach out into the community to do things like meet with the family at home. In other cases, the SRO may find that the threat is real. In 2005, two Clayton County Police SROs were given the National Association of School Resource Officers SRO of the year award for uncovering a plot by students to use snipers to shoot kids leaving the building when a fire alarm was pulled.

Another advantage to having an officer on campus is the emphasis of the SRO on security. Most educators have little to no training on how to deal with security and their emphasis is on educating kids. The SRO’s main concern is making sure that the school is safe, and he can keep reminding the school of things like the need to keep all but one door on the school locked, the desirabliity of cameras, and the need for safety drills.

It’s not a perfect solution, because an SRO is more than just a guard on campus. One of the most frequent issues that called me away was court. There are other things the officer will have to deal with which will pull him or her away from the school. I had four schools to cover (one high school, one middle school, and two elementary schools). It was not uncommon for me to be called away to another campus whether it was one of mine, to back up another SRO, or handle a case for another SRO who was out sick or in court.

There’s also the expense of the program. In my county, SROs are based at the high schools and visit the other schools in the cluster. That’s probably typical. I think the it would be a lot better to have an SRO at each high school and middle school. That would only double the cost of the program since there’s generally only one middle school per high school. Elementary schools tend to be much smaller, so four or five elemntary schools may feed a high school and middle school cluster. An typical SRO program with 10 high schools might need to increase to 50 to 60 officers to cover every campus. You might need more to cover for sick leave, court, and extra supervision.

The NRA has an interesting position. It would probably be very effective. It would also be costly. Frankly, I would think it would be incredibly dull for the officers assigned to elementary schools.

My Kids Mom

December 21st, 2012
3:38 pm

And our schools have the money to train guards? What would we give up? No extra money is going to come our way.

I feel like the decision to add more guns to protect us from existing guns is deciding that shootings in schools, malls, churches… are inevitable. I don’t think they are. I think they are preventable. I don’t want to take guns away from everyone. But we could limit what types of ammunition are available. No one needs a semi automatic to hunt or to protect their own home. Start there.

It is argued that it is too late to get rid of guns. Well, my grandfather started smoking cigarettes at age 12, and we’ve certainly changed that. We limited who could buy them and where they could be used.

Start putting limits on guns and take this slowly. Let our grandchildren see the change.

amx

December 21st, 2012
3:50 pm

Why not suggest an armed bodyguard for every student? As one poster stated, we protect our president and Brinks trucks with armed men. Of course, that didn’t keep Reagan from getting shot nor stopped any Brinks robberies, but it will sell more guns. I’m sure municipalities that haven’t given their police or teachers raises of any note in several years will be glad to pay for all this new protection. Of course, we could make it a lot harder to get weapons, but that might hurt someone’s feelings or infringe on their right to kill.