It may not stick, but the Obama administration might be getting a late education in the value of guns. When President Obama first exploited the tragedy at Newtown for more gun control, Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association, suggested putting armed guards in the schools.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, certain Democratic members of Congress and the cable channel MSNBC hooted at the idea, calling it everything from “irresponsible” to “shameful.” These folks are now recovering from the early attacks of hysteria.
In an interview at the White House, hosted by Parents magazine and posted on Facebook, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said that when he wrote the “Biden crime bill” in 1994 as a senator from Delaware, it included the provision for putting police officers in schools. “We found that those school resource officers were of value in many schools,” he told the audience. “We haven’t been funding them of late. We think they should be funded.”
One Republican freshman already has started that process in the House. Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina introduced legislation last week that would restore funding for the Cops in Schools program, which dispenses grants to local law enforcement agencies to hire new officers for school duty.
“We’re trying to find something that had bipartisan support, that is outside politics, that can make our schools safer,” he told The Washington Times. “When funded in the past, school resource officers had a positive effect in reducing gun violence. It’s a common sense, practical measure to protect our kids and teachers in school.”
Mr. Meadows has talked to several Democrats and got a “favorable response.” He’s optimistic that he can get co-sponsors from the other side of the aisle once Congress returns from recess.
The program began under the Clinton administration, awarding $753 million to hire more than 6,500 school resource officers around the country between 1999 and 2005. Congress never shut down the program, so it will only require the Appropriations Committee to shift funding to resume it.
Mr. Meadows’ legislation would allocate the initial $30 million of unspent funds originally allocated to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This won’t be enough for every school, but it can be a critical part of a broader solution to gun violence in schools.
According to the latest Department of Education survey, 28 percent of the nation’s 23,000 schools already have armed guards. By a 2 to 1 margin, Americans favor armed security guards and police in more schools, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center.
Gun control advocates use “gun-free zones” as the only policy prescription for schools. It’s a proven failure. With the exception of the attack on former Rep. Gabby Giffords in Arizona, all the recent mass shootings occurred in zones where the law-abiding were disarmed.
Killers won’t be deterred by a “no guns” sign on the door. Many of these shootings could have been prevented by an armed officer at the front door. School officials should decide for themselves whether such guards are right for their schools.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.