Amid the backlash NRA President Wayne LaPierre received after calling for the installment of armed guards in U.S. schools, one New Jersey district began the new year with the NRA’s preferred method of security.
Students attending Marlboro Township Public Schools returned to class this morning with armed police officers patrolling their campuses. The district’s board of education has partnered with Marlboro Township Police to institute a 90-day pilot program in which every school has one armed police officer on duty.
District leaders moved to implement the measure in response to last month’s shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and eight adults dead. After a week of remaining “respectfully silent” about the tragedy, LaPierre dropped a masterfully timed call to arm all schools with “a good guy with a gun” to protect against “a bad guy with a gun.”
“As brave, heroic, and self-sacrificing as those teachers were in those classrooms, and as prompt, professional, and well-trained as those police were when they responded, they were unable — through no fault of their own — to stop it,” LaPierre said in his December 21 statement.
Several local politicians slammed the NRA for its announcement.
“The [NRA’s] announcement today was salt in the wounds for all those families affected,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn wrote on her Twitter page. “[Seven] days after [the Newtown shootings] the [NRA] only added more pain for those families affected.”
As ill-timed and insensitive as many found LaPierre’s statements, Marlboro’s pilot program proves that the NRA isn’t alone in its theories on school safety. In fact for years, prior to the Sandy Hook shooting, armed Marlboro policeman have conducted rotating patrols of the district’s schools — albeit in fewer numbers than now.
The NRA had proposed that Congress work with its organization to immediately institute its newly formed National School Shield Program for the start of the new year. NSSP would rely primarily on retired law enforcement and military people to serve as armed guards in schools across the country.
The big problem with the theory of armed guards in schools is that no one can say that it really works. Thus, widespread practice of this system could present more problems than it would solve.
“I understand the impulse to put guards in schools, but I think in the long run, that’s not the message we want to give our kids,” Joann Angel, a Marlboro resident, told WABC-TV. “That the only way they are safe is if people with guns, armed, follow them around. . . . I think the problem is bigger than just putting somebody at the front door.”