The reactions of parents, teachers and school administrators ranged from hesitation to anger on Friday after a proposal by the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby to put an armed police officer in every school.
Superintendent Hank Grishman of the Jericho, schools on Long Island said he is outraged by the idea. He says putting more guns in schools won’t make children safer.
“Their solution to resolve the issue around guns is to put more guns in the equation?” said Girshman, an educator for 44 years. “If anything it would be less safe for kids. You would be putting them in the midst of potentially more gunfire.”
The National Rifle Association called for the armed officers in every American school at a press conference Friday, breaking its silence on last week’s shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead.
Parent and community activist Helen Gym in Philadelphia believes the NRA’s proposal is “extraordinarily opportunistic.” Philadelphia schools have debated and rejected the use of armed guards or police officers in its city schools. The district, with about 146,000 students in nearly 250 schools, instead relies on unarmed school police.
The goal is to de-escalate violence, Gym said.
“This is not an Old West shootout,” she said. “We’re talking about an elementary school.”
There are an estimated 10,000 school resource officers, most of them armed and employed by local police departments, currently in the nation’s schools, according to Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.
Canady said these officers help bridge the gap between the schools and police, and often develop a close enough relationship with parents and children that they feel comfortable coming forward with information that could prevent a threat. He said that if the proposal is pursued, it should include be sworn law enforcement officers trained to work in schools.
“I don’t believe that just putting an armed guard in there is going to make the school safer,” he said.
Associated Press writers Frank Eltman in Mineola, N.Y. and Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.