Debate Club

Armed Law Enforcement Didn't Stop Columbine

By SHARE

Last Friday, the National Rifle Association ended its traditional response to gun massacres—hiding away from public sight—to finally offer a response to the most recent mass shooting to shock our nation. The organization's plan, as outlined by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, would cynically allow for the continued sale of the assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines marketed by its gun industry "corporate partners"—who have given tens of millions of dollars to the organization.

But more importantly, the NRA's supposed solution to tragedies like Newtown has already been tried. And it did not work. In fact there were two armed law enforcement agents present at Columbine High School during the assault by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that left 15 dead and many more wounded. They twice engaged and fired at Eric Harris in an effort to stop the shooting, but were unsuccessful because they were outgunned by the assault weapons wielded by the two teens.

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on the Newtown shooting.]

According to the transcript compiled by the Jefferson County, Colorado, Sheriff's Office:

[Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Neil] Gardner [the school's community resource officer], seeing Harris working with his gun, leaned over the top of the car and fired four shots. He was 60 yards from the gunman. Harris spun hard to the right and Gardner momentarily thought he had hit him. Seconds later, Harris began shooting again at the deputy. After the exchange of gunfire, Harris ran back into the building. Gardner was able to get on the police radio and called for assistance from other Sheriff's units. "Shots in the building. I need someone in the south lot with me."

[See a collection of political cartoons on gun control and gun rights.]

Later, another officer fired back at Harris as the student shot out of a window. Again, according to the Sheriff Department's transcript:

Harris, leaning out of a broken window on the set of double doors into the school, begins shooting a rifle. [Jefferson County Deputy Paul] Smoker fires three rounds at him and the gunman disappears from the window. Smoker continues to hear gunfire from inside the building as more students flee from the school.

Now is the time to limit the increasingly lethal firepower available to civilians and halt the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The American people understand that—even if the NRA and the gun industry that helps fund it do not.

Josh Sugarmann

About Josh Sugarmann Founder and Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center

Tags
NRA
public schools
gun control and gun rights

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#1
95 Pts
Teachers and Principals Should Be Allowed to Conceal and Carry in Schools

No – Teachers and Principals Should Be Allowed to Conceal and Carry in Schools

Erich Pratt Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America

#2
-3 Pts
No Amount of Gun Control Will Stop School Massacres

No – No Amount of Gun Control Will Stop School Massacres

Gene Hoffman Chairman of the Calguns Foundation.

#3
-88 Pts
Armed Guards in Schools Is a Dangerous Diversion

No – Armed Guards in Schools Is a Dangerous Diversion

Dennis Van Roekel President of the National Education Association

#5
-141 Pts
The Last Thing Schools Need Is Armed Educators

No – The Last Thing Schools Need Is Armed Educators

Randi Weingarten President of the American Federation of Teachers

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