Reforms

CA educators reject NRA call for guns in schools



California educators and Democratic politicians are rebuking the National Rifle Association for suggesting that more guns in schools would keep students, teachers and staff safer. The NRA broke its silence about the massacre of children and teachers last week at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, holding a news conference Friday in Washington, D.C.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre in a quote heard around the country. He called on Congress to put armed police officers in every school in the country.

“In the wake of last week’s tragedy, it’s disheartening that anyone would think the answer is to have more guns in and around our schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in an email.

California Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg echoed the sentiment in a statement on his website saying, “The NRA’s suggestion that we militarize our schools is not the solution.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during an interview on the PBS program NewsHour.  Source:  NewsHour.  (click to enlarge).

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during an interview on the PBS program NewsHour. Source: NewsHour. (Click to enlarge)

But many California schools already have resource officers and armed police officers stationed on campus. A survey of about 300 school districts by EdSource last July found that 52 percent of the state’s high schools, 16 percent of middle schools and 5 percent of elementary schools already have police or resource officers. In high schools 83 percent of those officers are armed. That drops to 75 percent in middle schools and 59 percent in elementary schools.

In the San Francisco Unified School District, which has police or resource officers in all its high schools and middle schools, they aren’t really there for violence prevention, said longtime school board member Jill Wynns.

“The real purpose of having the resource officers is to connect the police to the students and the school,” she explained. “We think it’s important for students to know the police in their neighborhood, and we think we need relationships with them for that to be effective.”

Wynns said the San Francisco Police Department pays for the officers posted in schools, but regardless of who foots the bill – the district, the police, the federal or state government – the price tag is high. The National Association of School Resource Officers estimates it would cost between $80,000 and $100,000 per officer. With about 8,300 schools, the conservative estimate for California is about $668 million a year. The organization is also in general agreement with the NRA about the benefits of armed officers in schools. “A well-trained, armed, school-based police officer is one of the best defenses against an active shooter in a school,” wrote executive director Mo Canady in comments on the group’s home page.

Decisions on how to spend the limited funds available for education shouldn’t be made by the NRA, said Wynns. “In my personal view, we should be concerned that someone outside of school districts would say, ‘Oh yes, we should make a major investment in armed guards in our schools,’ but not in making sure that we have enough money for instruction.”

Schools also are generally safe places for children; despite the unimaginable horror of mass murders like those at Sandy Hook and Columbine. In cities, the streets are the most dangerous place. “Gun violence has haunted me my entire life,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told PBS NewsHour reporter Gwen Ifill in an interview that aired Friday night. “I had a lot of mentors, good friends I grew up with, shot dead when I was growing up,” said Duncan, choking back tears.

More recently, when he was superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, Duncan said “we buried a child killed by gun violence every two weeks.” They weren’t shot in school, they were shot walking to school or, in one case, by a stray bullet fired by an automatic rifle that tore through a house one morning and killed a girl as she was getting ready for school.

When Ifill cited some elected officials, including governors, who said if teachers at Sandy Hook had been armed they might have been able to protect themselves and their students, Duncan disagreed. “We can’t fight evil with evil. We need less guns not more; we need schools gun free,” he said. America needs to have the conversation, said Duncan, adding, “I promise you, very very few teachers are asking for more guns in school.”

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7 Responses to “CA educators reject NRA call for guns in schools”

  1. Gary said

    on March 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I am a California educator and CTA does NOT speak for me or for most of the teachers in my district. This article is misleading to the public. Not all teachers are liberal sheeple. G

  2. Zeev Wurman said

    on January 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Haven’t been here for a long time, so the response is a bit delayed. Anyway …

    Gary, I don’t recall calling you a “thug,” union or non-union, two weeks back or two years back. In fact, I don’t recall calling anyone a union thug. Ever. I did call you a “union spokesman” or something similar, though (smile). Was I wrong?

    My point about schools was simply that if we want to keep schools as “gun free” zones, it make some sense to provide someone with a gun there, but not necessarily a $100K/year peace officer. In normal places like malls one can (luckily?) still count on having both armed security and armed citizenry around if needs arises. Unless it is one of the few where guns are prohibited, like the one in Aurora, CO, that drew the killer there.

    Finally, are you sure you want to so cavalierly give up on liberties guaranteed to us (not “ordained,” if you don’t mind) “in one of a number of amendments”? You may want reconsider that, particularly that the overwhelming majority does seem support individual gun ownership.

    Post finally (smile), the suggestion was for volunteers, not teachers; and not for “assault weapons” as those are illegal to anyone but law enforcement but for typical semiautomatic handguns. But if teachers want to join in it, I think they should be welcome.

  3. Gary Ravani said

    on December 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Let’s see, the last several mass/multiple murders have occurred (as of today) in a neighborhood, a school, a parking lot at a supermarket hosting a political gathering, a house of worship, a shopping mall, and a movie theater. So we need to put either professional or volunteer armed guards in all of those places. Sounds like the kind of society i want to live in.

    This doesn’t take into account the thousands of young people “routinely” cut down in our urban areas every year.

    So the right to life (literally), liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for hundreds of millions is trumped by the “liberty” of a relative few individuals who are ordained in one of a number of amendments to own a musket if they are part of an organized militia?

    Makes sense to me.

    It’s “funny,” a lot of the same people who were calling my colleagues and me “union thugs” a week or two ago now want us all fully equipped with assault weapons.

    Go figure.

  4. Steven said

    on December 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    I don’t know who the “National Association of School Resource Officer” is, but I can tell you they are full of bovine digestive byproducts. I worked as a school district police officer (not on loan from a city department) for almost 16 years for 3 different agencies and the yearly figures they quote are 2-3 times what I got paid….who is siphoning off the extra? I call BS……

  5. Gus said

    on December 23, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    So Gwen, having the teachers shoot back trying to protect their children is evil?

  6. Jen said

    on December 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I also think trained volunteers would be the best choice. It’s irresponsible to leave teachers and other staff members unarmed in similar situations. But I also realize that part of the problem is connected to education. We are living in a society where murder,rape and numerous degenerate activities are presented as entertainment 365 days a week, along with video games that extoll mass murder so this is just the natural culmination of it. A few days ago I read an article on my native Vancouver which is often presented as one of the most liveable cities with the safest neighborhoods in the world but only now I realize that you are no longer truly protected anywhere especially when children are exposed to this kind of evil from their early childhood.

  7. Zeev Wurman said

    on December 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Rather then engage in a fruitless discussion with the CTA I’d simply point out that one does not need a trained (and expensive) police officer in every school. Most of these positions could be easily filed by trained volunteers. In fact, that what is essentially happening in Israel for many decades since the terrorists initially focused on schools as a “soft spot ” of the society. I believe the “civil guard,” essentially corps of trained volunteers, is now present in all Israeli schools.

    But, then, the CTA is against any volunteering positions in the school … oh well.

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