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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Should we have armed personnel in schools?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

As schools reopen after the holiday break, a reevaluation of security is on the agenda here and in school systems around the country. That, of course, is the result of the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month.

School officials will look at ways to enhance building security, as they have done in the past. In fact, many security features have been added since the Columbine tragedy. Those include keeping doors locked and screening visitors.

In Franklin County, police patrols will be stepped up around schools, and we are sure that will happen in most places in the nation. Schools officials here already plan a comprehensive review of security and procedures.

One controversial security measure is to make sure armed personnel are located at each school. We have armed resource officers from the sheriff's office at the high and middle schools, but would it be realistic to have them in elementary schools as well? And with the size of the middle and high schools, should we really have more on hand?

From an economic standpoint, creating that many new positions for law enforcement officers would be very difficult to do. However, as some have suggested, arming a few teachers and/or administrators may be a viable alternative.

Using school personnel in this capacity may indeed work. Of course, they would have to volunteer and would have to go through the required training in order to carry, handle and use firearms. They would also be given a monetary stipend for the extra responsibility.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, caught some flak for saying that sometimes the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun. Well, police officers are good guys with guns, and they do indeed occasionally stop a bad guy with a gun. Some school personnel could certainly be trained to be effective good guys (or ladies) with guns.

Chances are, the perpetrator of the Newtown shootings knew he had a "soft" target and would encounter no armed opposition. If it were common knowledge that all schools have armed personnel on hand, these lunatics would most likely have second thoughts about such actions. They may be crazy, but they are not stupid. It's not their own life they are concerned about. It's being able to be in a situation where they can carry out their agenda without interference. After all, how many of these attacks have been in places where there were armed personnel close by?

This discussion will most likely continue to be controversial, but having armed school personnel is certainly something that should be considered.

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