29th December 2012
It was only natural that the mass murder of 26 children and staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, would bring out the best and worst of people’s emotions. The frenzy of accusations and name-calling from educators, teachers’ union bosses, reform leaders, policy wonks, gun lobbyists, and editorial writers has yet to subside. The reaction that attracted the most hostility, on the left and on the right, was National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre’s call for an armed guard in every school “immediately,” funded with federal tax dollars.
The denunciations were instantaneous. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued a joint press release that flatly asserted: “Guns have no place in our schools. Period. We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees.” Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools, now CEO of a school-reform group, also weighed in: “I have come to the conclusion that StudentsFirst must publicly oppose legislation that would bring firearms into schools, anywhere.”
Perhaps Rhee, who now lives in Sacramento with her husband, Mayor Kevin Johnson, is unaware that the Golden State allows schools to employ armed guards if they choose. A man with a gun and a badge might not be patrolling a school near Rhee’s home, but he’s in a school somewhere in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, San Bernardino, or Riverside. LaPierre may have thought he was proposing something radical, but the protection he recommends is already in place in many parts of California.