NRA goes over the edge

Putting police in schools is beyond unrealistic

Wayne LaPierre, hired gunslinger for the National Rifle Association, believes the answer to mass shootings in schools is for teachers and principals to become armed guards and for a police officer to be assigned to every school. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he says.

This is madness. The notion that civilians could handle a Newtown-like situation—even if they were willing to be trained to do so—and have the presence of mind to stay calm and focused when someone was attacking them with a semiautomatic weapon is nuts.

In the one school shooting where an armed guard was present—Columbine—he got off four shots that all missed their target. The killers went on to murder 11 more people. And last August, when highly trained New York City police officers opened fire on a gunman outside the Empire State Building, they killed him, but they also wounded nine innocent people. Shooting situations are anything but predictable, and the risk of hitting the wrong person or persons is high.

Then there’s the matter of cost. As The New York Times has reported, there currently are 99,000 public elementary and secondary schools in the United States and 33,000 private schools. Putting at least one officer in each of them could mean hiring as many as 100,000 people—nearly one for every four full-time officers now employed.

As Craig Steckler, the police chief of Fremont, which has 43 public schools, told the Times, his department would need to expand by nearly half. “My patrol force is 89 officers on all shifts,” he said. “Where are we going to get 40-some additional officers?”

LaPierre and the NRA’s determination to blame the Newtown shootings on any- and everything but guns, from video games and songwriters to movie and TV script-writers, is enough to destroy any remaining credibility the organization has. But proposing universal armament of the nation’s schools as a solution to incidents like Newtown is a sign that they’ve gone completely over the edge.