Local Leaders Want Armed School Officers

12:49 AM, Dec 27, 2012   |    comments
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Bob Bennett of the New York State Board of Regents

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Friday's NRA response drew some spirited reaction from across the political spectrum. Some prominent local leaders actually agreed with part of it. But only part of it.

When the NRA called for putting armed officers or security guards in schools, Democrats like Congressman Brian Higgins were not pleased.

Rep. Higgins released the following statement:

"Several days ago the NRA promised 'meaningful contribution' to preventing another tragedy like that which occurred last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Unfortunately, no such contribution occurred today.

"Instead, America was treated to little more than a confrontational screed and a proposal to require armed guards in our nation's schools that cannot in any way be considered rational or in the public's interest. Fighting guns with more guns only continues to put our children in the crossfire.

"Since the Newtown tragedy one week ago, I have consistently stated that efforts to make real change must be meaningful and comprehensive. The NRA's proposal is neither meaningful nor comprehensive, and its confrontational attitude is counterproductive. That is unfortunate. But one thing is absolutely clear: turning schools into armed compounds cannot be part of any solution.

"I am committed to working toward real change to protect our children, and believe proposals should consider all factors, including meaningful reforms to our gun laws. We owe it to the 20 beautiful children and 6 courageous adults who lost their lives in Newtown to honor their memory by preventing these horrors from being repeated."

But New York State Board of Regents Member Bob Bennett, who is a far cry from an NRA supporter, disagrees with Rep. Higgins when it comes to armed officers in schools.

"And if we could have an armed officer available, and only one entrance and exit in the school . . . I think we have to tighten up on security, without a doubt," Bennett said.

Bishop Perry Davis, who runs Buffalo's Stop the Violence Foundation, agreed.

"It's a sad day in our society that that's what it's come to," Davis said. "But in order for us to feel secure with our children, anybody who wants to feel their secure, wants their children to be protected in some kind of way."

Davis and Bennett also agree with the NRA that we need stronger federal laws to prevent people with serious mental illness from buying guns. But that's where the agreement ends.

The NRA continues to insist banning "assault" weapons, like the high-powered rifle used in Newtown, will not help. Bennett said he's tired of hearing that.

"It's nothing more than an excuse," Bennett said. "They have extraordinary influence over people in Congress. It's totally inappropriate. I don't accept their explanation at all."

2 On Your Side raised the issue with Joseph Tartaro, President of the Second Amendment Foundation.

REPORTER: Do you think the best way to reduce gun violence is to actually arm more people with guns or to reduce the number of guns?
TARTARO: I think the issue is arming the right people with guns . . . We have some 300 million guns in this country. They're already there. If you pass a ban law, or you pass some other restriction, I don't think you're going to accomplish anything because the bad guys always seem to manage to get them, one place or another.

Davis disagrees.

"I'm not against protecting yourself and your family, but certain guns shouldn't be out there, period," he said.

Both Bennett and Davis, as well as Rep. Higgins, all believe that we cannot prevent tragedies like the one in Newtown unless we take a comprehensive approach. That includes dealing with mental illness, violence in our culture, and ultimately guns.

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