The Conversation

Armed Guards at Schools Deserves a Second Look

Last January President Obama kicked off his push for new gun control legislation saying "if there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step." Last week we learned that one step that meets that criteria is the one that was recommended by the NRA.

Nearly one year ago NRA President Wayne LaPierre made a statement in response to the Newtown shooting. His recommendation: Place armed guards at every school to protect children. In the midst of his speech, LaPierre asked a rhetorical question "what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security?" He continued "Will you at least admit it's possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared?"

The answer to the second question was no, at least as far as most in the media were concerned. The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson called the idea "insane."

The idea is so insane that as far as I’m concerned — and, I hope, as far as a still-grieving nation is concerned — the NRA has forfeited the right to be taken seriously on matters of public policy. Newtown is still burying six-year-olds and Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s chief, wants more freaking guns in the schools. Wow.

Robinson was far from alone. His fellow Post writer Jonathan Capehart dubbed the speech "insulting." The NY Times published an editorial attacking the idea:

Mr. LaPierre said the Newtown killing spree “might” have been averted if the killer had been confronted by an armed security guard. It’s far more likely that there would have been a dead armed security guard...

But last week we saw that's not necessarily the case. Karl Pierson entered Arapahoe High wearing "a bandolier containing shotgun shells and carrying a pump-action shotgun, a machete and a backpack holding three Molotov cocktails." He was apparently prepared to kill a lot of people. Tragically he did shoot one student who is still in the hospital in a coma.

But Pierson might have done much more carnage if not for a brave School Resource Officer who ran toward the sound of gunfire along with an unarmed security guard. Apparently realizing he was facing an armed authority figure, Pierson killed himself. The entire thing lasted 80 seconds according to CNN.

So contrary to what the NY Times suggested last year, the result of having an armed officer on hand was not a "dead armed security guard" but a dead assailant. And the Post's Eugene Robinson might want to reconsider the value of "more freaking guns in the schools." At Arapahoe High it appears that having an SRO on scene saved lives.

And painful as it is to consider, it is possible it might have done so at Sandy Hook as well. A recently released report on the Newtown shooting found that police responded to the 911 call within about four minutes. Lanza killed himself about a minute later, possibly as he became aware that police were closing in. It was an additional 4-5 minutes before police on scene entered the school.

In light of what took place last week at Arapahoe High, the NRA's suggestion for placing armed guards in every school deserves another, more serious, look. If the goal is really to save lives, why not do what works?


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