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NRA calls for armed guards in every school

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre calls on Congress to pass a law putting armed police officers in every school in America during a news conference at the Willard Hotel Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

The National Rifle Association broke its silence today on last week’s school shootings. The NRA unveiled a plan to put armed guards in every school in the country. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre says that’s the only answer.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he says.

The NRA is calling on Congress to “appropriate whatever is necessary” to put armed police officers in every school in the country. So, what would be necessary? A lot of money.

Mo Canady is head of the National Association of School Resource Officers. He says it would cost $80,000 per year for one armed school guard, including salary, benefits and equipment.

“The training of this person, making sure they’re properly equipped," he explains. "You know, a lot of departments certainly provide patrol cars.“ So, if you wanted to put a trained, armed officer in every school in the country, you’d have to plunk down almost $8 billion per year.

The NRA says, if there’s not enough money for that, it can provide armed volunteers for schools. But volunteers also come with a cost, according to gun control expert Robert Spitzer, at the State University of New York at Cortland. He says schools would need to screen volunteers and add more liability insurance.

“The insurance issue is a significant question especially when it’s somebody who might be a volunteer, or somebody who had training once, and perhaps that training therefore would have lapsed,” Spitzer says.

Some school security officials say guns are the least cost-effective option. Larry Johnson is head of security for the Grand Rapids, Michigan school district. He could have armed the district’s guards, but decided not to. He says counseling is more effective.

“I think in the end counseling is cheaper, and I think counseling is going to go much longer," he explains. "It’s going to get a bigger bang for our buck here.”

And, Johnson says, counseling helps troubled kids become stable adults. So they’re less likely to go on a shooting spree after they get out of school.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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