After a week of silence, the head of the NRA made his first public statement since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. He proposed placing an armed police officer in every public school in response to the tragedy.
NRA president Wayne LaPierre has been demonized by progressives for defending the 2nd Amendment in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. Friday, he tried to deflect some of that criticism back on the media, calling them "silent enablers" and pointing to the violence portrayed on TV and in films: "A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18."
The core of LaPierre's statement was less theoretical and more practical. Unlike another assault rifle ban, placing cops in every school could actually do much to prevent future tragedies like the one in Newtown last week:
I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.
Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else, as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work —and by that I mean armed security.
Right now, today, every school in the United States should plan meetings with parents, school administrators, teachers and local authorities — and draw upon every resource available — to erect a cordon of protection around our kids right now. Every school will have a different solution based on its own unique situation.
Every school in America needs to immediately identify, dedicate and deploy the resources necessary to put these security forces in place right now. And the National Rifle Association, as America's preeminent trainer of law enforcement and security personnel for the past 50 years, is ready, willing and uniquely qualified to help.
The immediate response from the left was, of course, negative. Progressive Matt Yglesias estimates the cost of such a policy would be upwards of $5.5 billion a year. He doesn't come right out and say this is a misallocation of funds, but that's clearly the gist of his comments.
Others have been claiming that armed guards make students feel less safe. Even if that's true, surely what matters is not whether students feel safe but whether they are safe. Is there anyone prepared to argue that having a cop on site would make the school less safe?
As for the cost, some schools already have police on site. It wouldn't be necessary to hire a new officer for every school. Surely some could be reassigned from other duties. In some cases, where schools are packed close together, it might be possible to have an officer split his time between them.
In any case, a country that can afford billions for green energy can surely afford to safeguard public schools. The President is already proposing $50 billion in new stimulus spending over the next ten years; turn that money over to states to protect schools and the cost is largely covered. Then, as soon as possible, cut that money from other, less important programs.
The reality of the situation is that it's nearly impossible to stop a madman from hurting others. But if the nation, and the media, want action, then putting armed cops in schools is a sensible policy option to prevent future tragedies.