A week after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the National Rifle Association came out today with its long-awaited response. The organization’s top lobbyist announced that the NRA would lobby Congress for funds to put armed officers in all schools and, until the funding comes through, would send armed guards to any school that requests one, free of charge.
Responses from New York education officials ranged from the blunt — “The NRA is wrong,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said — to the enraged — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called the comments “some of the most stupid, asinine, insensitive, ridiculous comments I have ever heard made in the public arena.” But they were all the same: Putting armed guards in schools won’t fly here.
The roundup of responses we’ve gotten is below. We’ll add to them as more responses roll in.
From principals union president Ernest Logan:
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.
Quinn, who is running for mayor:
Seven days after those teachers and children were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut the NRA has broken their silence. I wish they had kept their mouths shut. All they did today was add more pain and heartache to those Newtown families. Their remarks are some of the most stupid, asinine, insensitive, ridiculous comments I have ever heard made in the public arena. All these remarks tell us is that the NRA does not seem to care about protecting our children. I do not understand how even with all of those little coffins being rolled out in Newtown, that the NRA believes the answer is more guns. All that would have happened if there were armed guards in Sandy Hook Elementary is that we would now have dead armed guards. Why do we need an army style gun in that school, a gun we send to Afghanistan? I think the NRA’s comments today were a clear and blatant attempt to throw salt in the wounds of families who lost their loved ones. As a human being, I am surprised and tremendously disappointed in what the NRA did today.
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.
State Education Commissioner John King:
Today’s statements from the gun lobby are nothing but a distraction. The epidemic of gun violence — particularly against young people — all across the United States calls out for common sense gun control and a more thoughtful response to the mental health needs of our citizens.
AFT President Randi Weingarten:
After remaining silent for an entire week following the Newtown massacre, the NRA’s first comments were to call for more guns in our schools and our society. This is both irresponsible and dangerous. No matter how much money the NRA spends or propaganda it tries to spread, one thing is clear—the NRA is not serious about confronting the epidemic of gun violence in our nation.
Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses. Anyone who would suggest otherwise doesn’t understand that our public schools must first and foremost be places where teachers can safely educate and nurture our students.
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.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew:
Arming more people is not the answer. The way to make schools – and our society – safer is to reduce the number of guns in circulation.