Beth Fertig is the contributing editor for education, covering the New York City public school system for WNYC on air and online at SchoolBook.org. She has covered education in the city for more than 15 ...
Arm the Schools? NYC Educators and Parents Respond to NRA's Proposal
Friday, December 21, 2012 - 03:16 PM
The National Rifle Association, which has been silent since the Connecticut school shootings a week ago, is calling for an armed police officer to be posted in every American school. The gun-rights lobby also says it blames the media for allowing violent culture to come into children's homes.
At a Washington news conference, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
"You know, five years ago, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security?"
Read here for a complete transcript of the NRA's press conference.
New York City already has about 5000 safety agents in the public schools who are trained by the NYPD. They do not have weapons but they are often supplemented by armed police officers assigned to schools. A total of 88 schools have metal detectors.
Would putting armed security guards and police in every public school improve school safety?
We've reached to New York City parents, teachers, principals and students for reactions to the NRA's proposal. Read what they told us below Mayor Bloomberg's statement and then please add your own in the comments section.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
“The NRA's Washington leadership has long been out of step with its members, and never has that been so apparent as this morning. Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country. Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe. Leadership is about taking responsibility, especially in times of crisis. Today the NRA's lobbyists blamed everyone but themselves for the crisis of gun violence. While they promote armed guards, they continue to oppose the most basic and common sense steps we can take to save lives - not only in schools, but in our movie theaters, malls, and streets. Enough. As a country, we must rise above special interest politics. Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. That's why 74 percent of NRA members support common sense restrictions like criminal background checks for anyone buying a gun. It is time for Americans who care about the Second Amendment and reasonable gun restrictions to join together to work with the President and Congress to stop the gun violence in this country. Demand a plan.”
Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott
“A safe learning environment for our students is one of our top priorities. As the largest school district in the country, we know what works. The NRA is wrong. Putting an armed guard in every school building is not the answer. Our schools are safer today than they’ve been in more than a decade thanks to our collaboration with the NYPD, reforms to our discipline code to promote safety, anti-bullying and peer mediation programs, and work to remove illegal guns from the street.”
Harold Levy, former New York City Schools Chancellor (2000-2002)
"I think this is the road to hell. With the kind of weaponry that we've seen used in Connecticut, you'd need a SWAT team in each school to be an effective deterrent. Should we also arm the ushers in theaters? There's an issue before society and that is we can have an armed truce or we can just disarm. When I agreed to have a police presence in the schools, it was to address a gang violence problem. Not to deter shootouts. The NRA is just wrong. Sends a wrong message, creates a police state inside academic institutions and hardly enhances safety. I think it's a terrible idea."
Ernest A. Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators
“The NRA's proposal in answer to the massacre at Sandy Hook School is so unbelievable and cynical that educators like me will have trouble responding to it with restraint. Suffice it to say that the nation's largest gun rights lobbyist's proposal to place armed guards in every school in the nation will expose our children to far greater risk from gun violence than the very small risk they now face. Such action would turn our schools into armed camps while enriching those who make assault weapons and the most devastating types of ammunition. Instead, we must fight to ban assault weapons and the bizarre forms of ammunition now used with them.”
Sam Pirozzolo, public school parent and President of Community Education Council 31 on Staten Island
"Security certainly needs to be talked about. I don't know if an armed police officer in every school is certainly the answer to the question."
"I don't mind having a gun in every school. We [CEC 31] are suggesting to the DOE that they hire and allow retired police officers to form like a safety patrol or a roving patrol to visit schools on a daily basis. So maybe you're not there all the time but you have people walking around from school to school throughout the system. We're looking for the DOE to institute double door buzzer systems where you have to walk through one door, that door closes behind you and you can't progress until you know you're identified via video camera or whatever to get into the building."
Robert Hughes, President New Visions for Public Schools
"The NRA simply does not understand public schools and the challenges they face. America does not need outdated, wild west notions of law and order to protect school children. We need common sense. We need to limit the availability of assault weapons, rapid loading clips and armor piercing ammunition to all but law enforcement officials. Our schools will be safer with fewer guns in society, not more guns in schools."
Melessa Avery, Principal of PS 273 in East New York
"It is inevitable. If we are going to protect the citizens of this country the only way to do it is “gun control”. Do you know how much money it would cost this country to equip every school with a police officer with a gun? Do you know how much anxiety having police with guns in schools will cause young students? It’s absurd. We need more computers and intervention staff in schools not more officers with guns. It is Obvious defiant NRA Leader has his own agenda in mind. This is a fight every parent in America need to take to the streets and fight for. Get the guns off of the street and we will not need any further controls. Why does a citizen need a Glock or a high powered rifle?"
Carrie Chase Reynolds, Co-President, P.S. 163 Manhattan PTA
"No. Let’s put a licensed psychiatrist in every school—this country has a critically short supply of psychiatrists specializing in child/adolescent issues (about 6,000 nationwide), and there is very little conversation/funding/understanding of mental health issues when it comes to young people. And of course I am astonished but not surprised that the NRA believes that the solution to America’s gun problem is not fewer guns, but more."
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director New York Civil Liberties Union
"Every decision carries its own risk for the safety of our children, including and especially introducing guns into schools. Responses that may sound good and make us feel better at a scary and heartbreaking time don’t necessarily work and may even pose a greater danger to the health and safety of our kids. It’s important for any policy measures to be based on conversations with those who know kids best – educators, parents, and children themselves, along with safety experts, not just Washington gun lobbyists like the NRA."
Judy Biener, English teacher, Townsend Harris High School, Queens
"I don't like the idea of an armed officer in the schools at all. Last week, "The New York Times" ran a piece about schools that do have police officers, and how they sometimes escalate a conflict and arrest students for minor infractions. A gun in a school will not make me feel safer. A shoot-out in the hallway is the last thing we need. It's just too scary. Perhaps one instance will occur in which a "good guy" with a gun does stop a "bad guy," but the risk seems high of things going wrong."
Pedro de Los Angeles, 13, 8th grade student at Democracy Prep Middle School, Harlem
We need fewer guns in America. And schools should not have guns at all. If an officer's in our school and he's armed, anyone who comes in from outside would think our school is unsafe and they would have a reason to come in with a weapon. Any false move that the person with the weapon does it might cause to a shootout."
Comments On Twitter
“The answer is never more guns. Plan and simple, but especially when children are involved.”
“Dear NRA: Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell, Manuel Diaz, Alan Blueford, Rekia Boyd, and many more were killed by ‘good guys w/ guns’ (police).
“Absolutely stunning that so many people are pretending the NRA schools thing is a real proposal.”
“NRA (Now Real Assassins or even better (Now Really A#*hoes.) Should’ve kept quiet, better yet keep talking so we see the real you. Idiots!”
With reporting from the Associated Press