Should the Federal Government Pay for Armed Guards in Public Schools?

An NRA-funded study proposes that federal grants should be used to pay armed guards to protect schools.

By + More

The National Rifle Association Tuesday released a sponsored report providing recommendations to improve school safety, proposing that every American school have armed police officers, guards, or teachers to protect students. The study was conducted by the National School Shield Task Force, headed by Asa Hutchinson, a Republican former congressman from Arkansas.

The NRA cited evidence in the report that having an armed guard on school grounds leads to fewer instances of violence in schools, and limits the response time if an incident is to take place. The report said that the number of school resource officers – police officers who serve in schools –  should be expanded across the country:

As more SRO officers have been assigned to schools, school death rates have decreased. These numbers support the notion that the presence of armed officers positively impacts the  school environment.

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

The report cited federal grants that funded school resource officers, but noted that many school districts don’t have the funds to pay for such armed guards when grants ran out. It recommended that the Department of Homeland Security be designated as the lead agency, coordinating with the Departments of Education and Justice on  federal programs and funding for school safety efforts. The NRA suggested that these efforts could be funded through Department of Homeland Security grants and so would not require any new money.

Placing armed guards on every school campus across the country could cost more than $5 billion, said Bruce Hunter of the School Superintendents Association.

Opponents of the proposal also point out that armed guards have been on the scene of past gun massacres, and were unable to stop the shootings. Marian Wright Edleman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, said the gun lobby can't be allowed to jeopardize children's education and safety with armed guards:

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.

[ Take the U.S. News Poll: Is the Gun Control Movement Losing Momentum?]

The NRA maintains that the answer to gun massacres in schools is more armed adults on school grounds who are trained to protect students, rather than stricter gun control laws. The powerful gun lobby inflamed the debate surrounding school safety when it held a press conference following the Newtown, Conn. shooting last December and suggested future massacres could be prevented if police officers and armed teachers are present in schools.

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School which killed 20 children and 6 adults, President Barack Obama has advocated for stricter gun control measures like universal background checks for gun purchases, banning assault rifles, and limiting magazine clip capacities. He rejects the idea that more armed guards in schools is the way to stop gun violence.

What do you think? Should the federal government pay for armed guards in public schools? Tale the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.