Last Updated:November 30 @ 11:35 am

Armed school guards are our best bet to stop future Newtowns

By McClatchy/Tribune

OAKLAND, Calif. - When he heard police arrive at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a "gun free zone," Adam Lanza ended his murder spree by killing himself.

Days earlier, in Portland, Ore., Jacob Roberts had slain two at the Clackamas Town Center mall. When a licensed gun owner pointed a pistol at him, Roberts likewise killed himself.

James Holmes murdered 12 at the Aurora Century movie theater in Colorado, another "gun free zone" that prohibited armed security personnel. Holmes surrendered when police showed up.

Rampaging gunmen seek victims at places where they expect no immediate resistance. They continue their evil deeds until they are no longer in control due to the intervention of armed defenders. Then, they typically seek to remain in control by taking their own lives.

The tragic Newtown, Conn., school massacre was instantly politicized by calls to ban "assault weapons" and magazines holding more than 10 cartridges. Violent video games were deplored, but there were no pre-written bills to ban them. Mental illness was a hot topic, but no firm solutions were offered. Increasing police presence at schools was not in the cards during the media-driven frenzy.

Virginia's Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell suggested that not only police, but armed school officials who so chose could be trained to stop aggressors. A loud chorus responded against "shootouts" in schools. Perhaps unopposed executions are better.

For now, consider just increasing the law enforcement presence.

When the NRA's Wayne LaPierre proposed armed security at every school, the media reacted with a tidal wave of derision and contempt. How could anyone dare say that we live in a society where our children need armed police protection, and need it now?

Shall we live in a fantasy world and kid ourselves into thinking that we can simply pass new laws and such tragedies won't happen again?

In the days after Newtown, school authorities nationwide notified parents that police were patrolling schools more often and that security was being tightly monitored.

The Washington Post, openly advocating a gun ban, derided the NRA proposal -- a verboten topic, apparently, for the nationwide "conversation." Curiously, the Post then published an article noting that police had stepped up patrols at schools in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia and that some schools, particularly in D.C., had permanent security guards. Law enforcement presence is focused mostly at urban middle schools and high schools, not at elementary schools -- doubtlessly to control drugs and gang violence.

So the issue is not whether armed security personnel should be present at schools -- nationwide, some 17,000 sworn officers already serve in schools, according to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing -- but whether their presence should be increased to protect against the inevitable copy-cat killer.

No guarantee exists that the presence of an armed officer would stop the next disaster. But it would give the potential victims a chance.

Remember, the massacre at Columbine High School, a "gun free zone," took place after passage of the federal "assault weapon" ban. The killers didn't use the banned guns; they didn't need them.

Somebody intent on mass murder has many weapons from which to choose: fertilizer-based explosives were used to kill 168 in Oklahoma City; box cutters were the initial weapon used by the 9/11 hijackers who left 2,977 dead.

Murder and mayhem are not abolished by banning possession of selected physical objects by law-abiding individuals. No "conversation" is needed to know that armed security can protect schools, just as they protect courts and other public buildings, airline travelers, banks, and even convenience stores.



Stephen P. Halbrook is a research fellow with The Independent Institute, 100 Swan Way, Oakland, Calif. 94621-1428; website:

This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors. ------ © 2013, The Independent Institute

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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  1. pebearComment by pebear
    January 25, 2013 @ 11:04 am

    I concur the only thing going to keep people safe from guns are guns. If you know you can come after me and shoot me because I’m unarmed you will (if you hate me for some reason) if you think I might be armed you might think twice about assaulting me. If you know the schools are protected by armed professional guards then you will think twice about attacking the school. Attacking schools is nothing new people have been doing it for years, decades probably over hundreds of years because they know schools are not martial by nature and they can satiate their psychotic desires by going their and other places not associated with arms.

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  2. vevaComment by veva
    January 25, 2013 @ 11:50 am

    So the Courts are protected by armed guards! They are more important than rooms full of children??? Mr. Obama’s children are protected by security men. Are they more important than yours?? People who are against guards in schools are not thinking, they’re only parroting the “current, loudest squawking wheel”, the liberals.

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    • cdrcodyComment by cdrcody
      January 25, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

      I saw an establishment sponsored ad recently (it was on YouTube but I don’t have the link) that didn’t come right out and say it, but it indicated that obama’s kids are better than yours.

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    • Eagle OneComment by Eagle One
      January 26, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

      Liberals and elites are always willing to take all precautions for they and theirs while sending everyone else to the wolves.
      This is a great article and very much on point.
      No one takes care of your interests better than you yourself.

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  3. poorgrandchildren.comComment by
    January 25, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

    NO! NO! NO!

    We don’t need to hire more government employees to do anything. Concealed carry is more effective and costs nothing.

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    • crunchemComment by crunchem
      January 25, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

      Agreed. And this is why the NRA’s proposal makes so much sense; because it uses SPECIALLY TRAINED VOLUNTEERS, at no expense to the public. And if a school wanted to not do it, fine. Why would anyone object to this common sense, non-government-forced plan?

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  4. highsiderComment by highsider
    January 25, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

    What liberals nationwide are deliberately ignoring is the fact that EVERY psycho mass killer with a gun has already purposed to keep right on killing until a good guy with a gun shows up.

    Doesn’t fit the narrative you know.

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  5. Lee14Comment by Lee14
    January 26, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    If we had armed certified to carry people in the schools it would be very helpful, but if schools also had medal detectors at every entrance that would eliminate that basically all together. My school was on the news lately for 3 kids who were involved and one was caught with it. they blammed the girls parents which isn’t right it was her fault she brought ot but her dad really should have had it in a locked secure area where his kids didn’t know where it was , but we really need to pack on security for schools and not just Obama’s kids….

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