A nation shaken by Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn., is wondering what to do to prevent future tragedies. Some gun rights advocates have suggested returning to a time-worn strategy in lieu of gun control: keeping up with the proliferation of arms outside the schoolhouse doors by arming those inside.
If the principal of Sandy Hook had been armed with an M-4 carbine, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) argued on "Fox News Sunday," she could have stopped the tragedy crucial minutes before the police. She could have "take(n) his head off before he [could] kill those precious kids."
It is an argument using the logic of what critics call the "maximum guns" school of thought about preventing violence at schools. Though schools rarely arm teachers themselves, armed police are a frequent sight inside many American schools. But school safety and child psychology experts surveyed by The Huffington Post said there is no guarantee that putting more guns in schools, even in the hands of trained police officers, will stop rampage killings -- and that increased school security could come at the cost of children's well-being.
While attempts at gun control have floundered since 1999, the year of the Columbine school shooting, the federal government has poured more than $811 million into hiring cops for schools. The number of police on campuses has ballooned from around 9,446 in 1997 to 17,000, according to a March 2010 policy brief from the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.
The deadly and ever more popular assault rifles widely available for legal purchase, meanwhile, have prompted police to respond with higher-powered weapons of their own. In August, before a public outcry stopped the plan, police in Plainfield, Ill., proposed storing AR-15 assault rifles -- similar to the type that Lanza used -- in secure lockers inside high schools. It was a preventive measure, they said, against a "worst-case scenario."
Bill Bond is one of the few who knows the school shooter scenario firsthand. He was the principal at Heath High School in Paducah, Ky., in 1997, when a 14-year-old opened fire on a student prayer group. Bond came out of his office to confront the gunman face-to-face. He said he has no doubts about how that day would have ended if he had done what Gohmert suggests.
The shooter "stood against a wall and shot eight kids and three of them died. That took 12 seconds. It is fast," said Bond, who is now the specialist for school safety for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. If he had been running toward the shooter with a weapon in his hands, he believes, he would have been shot. "I was able to take the gun from him, but I believe if I had been armed, I would have been dead."
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SOURCE: The Huffington Post