There are many passionate responses from education leaders today to recommendations from a National Rifle Association- sponsored study that schools hire armed security officers and allow trained staff to carry weapons to prevent another Newtown tragedy by reducing response time. The recommendations were released at a press conference today.
Here is a statement from Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund:
“Why is the NRA afraid of the truth? The truth is there is no evidence that armed guards or police officers in schools make children safer. Columbine High School had an armed guard, and Virginia Tech had a full campus police force.
Today’s report is nothing more than a continuation of the NRA’s attempts to prey on America’s fears, saturate our schools with more guns and turn them into armed fortresses. It must be soundly rejected.
It is long past time for us to protect child safety instead of guns. We must not allow the gun lobby to enrich gun manufacturers at the expense of our children’s education and safety. ”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federal of Teachers, said:
“Today’s NRA proposal is a cruel hoax that will fail to keep our children and schools safe. It is simply designed to assist gun manufacturers flood the nation and our schools with more guns and large magazine clips, which will simply lead to more violence.
The NRA is trying to distract the American people from the real, serious gun problem we face in America Adam Lanza broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School and fired 155 bullets into innocent children and educators in less than five minutes. That America can’t do something to prevent future mass shootings with this kind of weaponry and ammunition is unacceptable and outrageous. The NRA proposal will do nothing to stop another gunman with similar weapons and munitions from shattering the safe sanctuary of our schools.
“If we are serious about protecting our children and our communities, Congress must reject the NRA’s dangerous posturing and follow the lead of the Connecticut Legislature in enacting bipartisan, commonsense gun safety legislation, including comprehensive background checks, and a ban on large magazine clips and military assault weapons. These reforms would strike at the heart of America’s gun violence epidemic.Schools must be safe, nurturing learning environments for our students, which is why we are opposed to proposals to arm educators or turn our schools into armed fortresses. Safety personnel and safety plans have their place in schools, but we must leave those decisions to the people who know our schools best—not to those acting as a proxy for gun manufacturers. Ironically, the NRA proposes extensive background checks for the people they want to guard our schools, but opposes those same background checks for anyone else.
Schools across the nation should train selected staff members to carry weapons and should each have at least one armed security officer to make students safer and allow a quicker response to an attack, the director of a National Rifle Association-sponsored study said Tuesday.
Republican former Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas made the remarks as a task force he headed released its report, which included a 40- to 60-hour training program for school staff members who are qualified and can pass background checks.
“The presence of an armed security personnel in a school adds a layer of security and diminishes the response time that is beneficial to the overall security,” said Hutchinson.
Asked if every school would be better off with an armed security officer, Hutchinson replied, “Yes,” but acknowledged the decision would be made locally. “Obviously we believe that they make a difference,” he said.
Hutchinson said the security could be provided by trained staff members or by school resource officers — police officers assigned to schools that some districts already have. The report was released a week before the Senate plans to begin debating gun control legislation.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog. Please note that all comments to blogs are moderated and must be released to appear.