Should Mercer Island Schools Follow NRA's Suggestion for More Armed Campus Security?

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," the NRA's Wayne LaPierre said.

In a Friday morning press conference in Washington DC, the National Rifle Association broke its weeklong silence following the horrific shooting of 26 people at a school in Newtown, CT and called for a surge of gun-carrying "good guys" around American schools.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for a new kind of American domestic security revolving around armed civilians, arguing that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

"We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents," LaPierre said. "Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it."

LaPierre's speech was a call to supporters to mobilize around a new vision of American domestic security, at a time when voices for gun control are steadily rising. On Friday morning before the press conference, President Obama released a video (above) citing a petition by hundreds of Americans calling for swift action.

Mercer Island Patch contacted local legislators and the Mercer Island School District and has left messages requesting comment, and will add them to this story when they are made available.

MISD Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano issued a statement last week that all Mercer Island schools take "reasonable precautions to ensure that our public schools are as safe as possible."

At the grassroots level, groups like Newtown United, a group of Newtown neighbors, are working to address major issues related to the tragedy, including gun control, violent media, mental health and legislation.

Newtown locals responded to the NRA press conference. Suzy DeYoung, a Newtown parent, coach and resident for nine years who has three children, said LaPierre's speech was playing to people’s fears.

“People are much smarter than this,” DeYoung said. “He is saying we need to be protected from guns by more guns. This lack of logic speaks for itself, and I truly believe the response you are abut to see from parents all around the world will offer better commentary than I ever could."

Joanna Zachos, a mother in Sandy Hook, CT said that while she supports an increase in gun control and personally does not believe in guns at all, that the larger problem goes "way beyond that."

"The problem we have is our immunity to violence as a society as a whole," she said. "Violent video games, violent movies, addiction to horror films. We've developed immunity to violence and violent images."

LaPierre also lamented violence in video games, music videos and "blood-soaked" films. But his central solution seemed to be a great mobilization of gun-carrying "good guys," a term he used repeatedly but did not define, who might be more present and respond more quickly than police.

"If we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible," LaPierre said. "And that security is only available with properly trained, armed 'good guys'."

LaPierre, who was interrupted twice by protesters who held signs in front of TV cameras, made a direct call for local action.

"I call on every parent. I call on every teacher. I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country, to join with us and help create a national schools shield safety program to protect our children with the only positive line of defense that’s tested and proven to work," he said.

LaPierre did not take questions from reporters, and did not acknowledge the protesters.

Carla Rodriguez December 21, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Absolutely NOT. There was an armed guard at Columbine and he was out-gunned there. At Sandy Hook, Adam Lanza had body armor up to his neck, decreasing the ability to take him down. IN addition, the possibility of increasing the morbidity/mortality rate from cross-fire becomes greater. Beyond all this, "lock-down" mode and restricting movement and collaboration is not a place that is conducive to learning. I am disappointed that you cannot comment on the NRA site at all. Do they not like hearing thoughts from the public? It seems similar to LaPierre's decision not to take questions from the press following his statement today. There was a good program on NPR today regarding the high incidence of morbidity and mortality from EVERYDAY gun violence, including suicide. Tragic incidents like Sandy Hook are sensational and heart breaking, but much more happens every day--usually by "sane" individuals who are usually law-abiding. We are humans and we all have our shortcomings. We get angry, we over-react, we make mistakes. I'd like it to decrease the availability of tools that will allow us to react in ways that we will regret. I'm not suggesting we BAN all guns. I think the language The President and legislators are using language around banning semi-automatic weapons & high capacity magazine clips because they allow more harm with a faster and sustained rate of discharge.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA December 21, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Carla Rodriguez adds another well-reasoned comment. Bravo! J-
Robert T. Brown December 21, 2012 at 09:12 PM
This seems like a reasonable idea, adding more security at the Island's schools. MIHS already has an (unarmed) security liason and a a School Resource Officer on duty most of the time, but all four other schools have no such protective measures. "Cross-fire" won't increase "mortality rate", because any intruder will be preoccupied by the resistance, allowing time for people to escape and seek shelter.
Kendall Watson December 21, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Thanks for the comment, Robert. I think the point the other poster was trying to make was in situations where an armed guard was present in the past, they were rendered ineffective — in part because of the firepower the assailants brought with them and used with such lethal efficiency. At Columbine, a majority of the casualties happened after they were engaged by the armed guards there. That doesn't necessarily invalidate your hypothesis, at least in the example (Columbine) given, but it does suggest that a solution will be more complex than simply introducing an "armed guard".
Kim Fackrell December 21, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Carla, I couldn't agree with you more. The last thing we need are guns at our schools. Banning semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazine clips seems like a reasonable step to take. The average citizen does not need to have these for "protection" or hunting. Gun rights need to be balanced with the rights of our and our children's safety.
Stephen December 22, 2012 at 01:05 AM
The only reason that would be necessary is because guns are so easy to get. If the bad guys don't have guns the good guys don't need them.
Linda Todd December 22, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Sarah Weinberg December 23, 2012 at 06:37 AM
I think we should do what Australia did after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. They not only outlawed the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but they ran a buy-back program in which they bought guns back from the public at 110% of their regular price. Stopping the sale of these military weapons after a certain date does nothing about the 300,000,000 guns already out there. We absolutely do NOT need guns in schools. What we DO need is intervention with kids who are noted to be alienated outsiders. We need to make it easy for school kids to go tell a teacher or school counselor about a schoolmate who is not acting normally. It's these kids, socially isolated often because of "weird" behavior, who need our most compassionate help, before they turn to desperate suicidal actions as Adam Lanza did.


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