NRA wants armed officers in all school buildings
WASHINGTON The nation’s largest gun-rights lobby called Friday for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer “waiting in the wings.”
The National Rifle Association broke its silence on last week’s shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” the group’s top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said at a Washington news conference.
But Carl Korn, spokesman for the New York State United Teachers, has a different opinion. He said school safety will come with reasonable controls on access to high-power weapons and safety checks at the buildings.
“More guns in schools are not the answer,” Korn said. “The answer is not to turn our schools into armed fortresses”
He stressed that schools are supposed to be nurturing environments, which might not be possible with armed guards on the premise. “We want to ensure that schools are environments where kids can receive support and have their needs met,” Korn said.
LaPierre said “the next Adam Lanza,” the man responsible for last week’s mayhem, is planning an attack on another school.
“How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark,” LaPierre said. “A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?”
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.
He refused to take any questions after speaking. Though security was tight, two protesters were able to interrupt LaPierre’s speech, holding up signs that blamed the NRA for killing children. Both were escorted out, shouting that guns in schools are not the answer.
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.
Michael Piccirillo, superintendent for the Saratoga Springs City School District, said it’s his job to create a secure and welcoming environment, which means balancing competing priorities. A Saratoga Springs police officer is on the premises of the Saratoga Springs High School as an armed resource officer.
Piccirillo said the resource officer is good support, but he questioned whether the district would want personnel on school grounds that weren’t associated with a police agency.
The 4.3 million-member NRA largely disappeared from public debate after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., choosing atypical silence as a strategy as the nation sought answers after the rampage. The NRA temporarily took down its Facebook page and kept quiet on Twitter.
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.