Yes, Americans are comfortable with armed guards in schools. It’s not a crazy plan. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post’s The Fix blog noted today how the NRA’s CEO and Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, isn’t extreme for pitching such an idea during the organization’s press conference in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. In fact, Cillizza wrote LaPierre “isn’t crazy” for having such a view.
According to the poll:
...a majority (55 percent) of Americans in the poll support the idea of putting an armed guard in every school in the country including 65 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats.
Second, when asked whether stricter gun laws or armed guards would do more to curb gun violence in schools 43 percent chose tighter gun laws while 41 percent named armed guards — a statistical dead heat. Not surprisingly, Democrats strongly favored stricter gun laws while Republicans preferred armed guards. Independents, living up to their name, split 42 percent for stricter laws and 41 percent for armed guards.
What those numbers suggest is that LaPierre’s assertion about arming more people in schools is simply not viewed as all that far-fetched by a large plurality of the country. It also makes clear that the conversation about guns happening on the Acela Corridor (between Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.) is not the same conversation happening in other places in the U.S.
Furthermore, Cillizza added that people polled in urban areas favored stricter gun laws to reduce violence by a margin of 13 points, while rural residents favored armed guards by 22 points. Hence, the urban/rural divide over this issue, which is exacerbated by liberal mayors of major cities, who are trying to quarterback this crusade.
Granted, portions of the poll, such as banning so-called “assault rifles” and high capacity magazines, show a majority supporting those measure, but Cillizza admitted that Americans don’t feel stronger gun laws should be a legislative priority. While Cillizza pointed out that one in three adults favor stronger gun laws, he concedes “that number is somewhat inflated by the 53 percent of self-identified Democrats who felt that way. Less than one in five Republicans (19 percent) and just more than one in four independents (27 percent) said enacting gun control measures should be the highest priority of the federal government.”
Additionally, some school districts are already placing armed guards on their grounds. Mary Lou Byrd of The Washington Free Beacon wrote on January 14 that “school districts in Pennsylvania, Alabama, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have hired armed officers in the weeks since the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Free Beacon has found. Additionally, schools in Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, and New York are in the process of hiring armed officers or recommending they be placed in schools.”
From experience, as a Dickinson College alumnus, we had an armed campus security force, so this idea was never alien to me. However, to anyone who feels that it will imbrue the aura of safety that was once present at our schools, all I can say is that “the times they are a-changin.” No place is safe. It’s a 21st Century reality, and we need to accept this unfortunate development. I’m betting that any parent would support any means to keep their kids safe in school – and armed security is one of those measures.