National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre responded to the Newtown massacre by suggesting that schools needed more guns, not fewer. His proposal shocked even some already-skeptical critics–but it also found supporters.
He told NBC’s Meet the Press this past Sunday that “putting a good guy with a gun” in schools was a “pretty darned good argument.” Many pro-gun lawmakers and local enthusiasts seem to agree with him, and have begun pushing forward with plans to help arm teachers and other school officials.
In Ohio one gun group is accepting applications for those looking to enroll in an Armed Teacher Pilot Program. In Utah, another gun group kicked off concealed weapons training for teachers (for free) Thursday. In Arizona, even the Attorney General wants to see school staffers armed, and in New Jersey, the Marlboro County School District is wasting no time and will place armed guards in schools starting next month.
But Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, says those ideas are “dangerous, irresponsible, and a huge diversion from what is going on.”
“Some of these very same states have stripped teachers rights to actually have a voice in a classroom, have any latitude over what they do with students, have any latitude over their conditions at work,” she said on PoliticsNation. “But yet, the NRA is rushing to arm teachers and rushing to arm schools.”
“We actually need to make kids safer. We actually need to take guns away from kids.”
Weingarten accused the NRA of trying to divert attention from the huge gun problem in America. “All these folks who are rushing to arm teachers, they’re rushing to make a buck off of this,” she said. “In Columbine there was an armed guard, it didn’t help. In Virginia Tech there were armed guard across the campus, it didn’t help.”
“Where is the NRA going to stop? Do they want an armed guard in every classroom? In every wing? Where are they going to stop?”
Weingarten also questioned the cost of arming teachers or placing guards in every school, especially given how strapped for cash countless school districts are. “We don’t have money for kids to have arts and music, we don’t have money for kids to have supplies, we don’t have money for teachers to get a decent salary, we don’t have money to have small class size, but all of the sudden in a hot little minute we can find millions, billions of dollars to arm teachers?” she asked.
“We need to find a way to harmonize the second Amendment and have common sense regulations around guns,” she said, pointing to countries like Israel, Canada, and Australia as models. “If we regulate driving, if we regulate Wall Street, why can we not regulate guns?”