Should Marin Schools Have Armed Security Guards?

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," the NRA's Wayne LaPierre said. How are Marin's school security boss reacting to that?

The National Rifle Association broke its weeklong silence following the horrific shooting of 26 people at a school in Newtown, Conn., and called for a surge of gun-carrying "good guys" around American schools.

Not a great idea, responded the man charged with security on Novato's public school campuses.

"All those efforts and resources could be used for mental health issues," said Bill Welch, who runs North Bay Security Group.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for a new kind of American domestic security revolving around armed civilians, arguing that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

"We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents," LaPierre said. "Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it."

Welch said there's no way anyone can prevent a heavily-armed person from walking onto a campus because the entire perimeter of a school cannot be covered at all times. He said adding a security guard with a handgun would guarantee nothing at all. A guard with a 9mm or .40 caliber pistol going up against a deranged person with a semi-automatic assault weapon would not be a good situation.

"You don't bring a knife to a gunfight," Welch said. "We can't have police officers walking around on school campuses with high-powered guns tucked into their shirts."

Money for more counseling and psychological staff would be better spent than having armed guards, he said.

"Parents should know that Novato has tons of emotional support and psychological support for troubled kids in our school district," he said. "If we can direct more resources to our mental health system, I think we'd be better off."

NUSD Communications Director Leslie Benjamin said a team of six psychologists work for the district and have played important roles on a daily basis plus during traumas such as the violent off-campus deaths of students Hailey Ratliff, Isaac Brott and Melody Osheroff.

LaPierre's speech was a call to NRA supporters to mobilize around a new vision of American domestic security, at a time when voices for gun control are steadily rising. On Friday morning before the press conference, President Obama released a video (attached) citing a petition by hundreds of Americans calling for swift action.

At the grassroots level, groups like Newtown United, a group of Newtown neighbors, are working to address major issues related to the tragedy, including gun control, violent media, mental health and legislation.

In stark contrast, LaPierre called for a great mobilization of gun-carrying "good guys," a term he used repeatedly but did not define, who could be more present and respond more quickly than police.

"If we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible," LaPierre said. "And that security is only available with properly trained, armed 'good guys.'"

LaPierre, who was interrupted twice by protesters who held signs in front of TV cameras, made a direct call for local action.

"I call on every parent. I call on every teacher. I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country, to join with us and help create a national schools shield safety program to protect our children with the only positive line of defense that’s tested and proven to work," he said.

In his speech, LaPierre also accused the media of selling "violence against its own people" through violent video games, music videos and "blood-soaked" films. He did not take questions from reporters, and did not acknowledge the protesters.

Gavin Newsom, California's lieutenant governor and a Marin County native, said this via Twitter on Friday morning: "Columbine had an armed deputy sheriff, yet 13 people still died. Tell the NRA this is not the answer."

— Novato Patch's Brent Ainsworth and Patch writers on national issues contributed to this story.

MV Resident December 24, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Interesting article but surprised to see that it wasn't "hyper-localized." As a MV resident, Id like to hear from our school district representatives, MV Prinicpals and parents. Also, what are they doing to protect students? How will things change? What actions are they taking? Here's a great opportunity to show how The Patch can truly be "hyper local"...let's interview locals.
Ann Matranga December 24, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I hope parents will talk about home safety too. Do families have guns at home? What kind of guns? Are they kept out of reach of young children and teenagers - and how? This appears to be an off-limits conversation that needs to come out in the open. When there's honesty, parents whose children play and go to school together can make community decisions about safety.
Excpro9 May 12, 2013 at 11:24 AM
Are you people serious? Is it really THAT bad to put armed guards in schools to protect our children? Welch, you must be on crack to think that a untrained person with a SEMI-automatic rifle is more deadly than a trained person with SEMI-automatic handgun there is no comparison. how the hell do you compair a 9mm to a knife? what was mentioned in the article about cops tucking assault rifles in their shirts, in that case, how will an attacker hide his/her rifle when they are attacking a school? The reality is they won't hide. it will be obvious to well trained personnel. The idea that using shrinks to nip the potential problem children in the bud is ludicrous. Open your eyes and look what happened at Sandy Hook, the freaking shooter wasnt even a student. you can't council students out of school. in addition to that you cannot predict the behaviour of anybody especially outside the school environment. The problem is that jumping to conclusions about more gun control is a fatal mistake made by ignorant people who dont realize there's probably more illegal guns in circulation than legal ones. it's typical for most anti-gun enthusiasts over react to such a tragedy. EVEN if all guns were illegal it would be asinine to think that would stop gun violence with all the firearms out there with really harmful people just waiting to get their hands on one.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something