Posting an armed officer in every St. Charles school and in schools across the country is the goal of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the guns-rights lobby announced on Friday.
The statement comes on the heels of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT, where 20 children and six adults were killed. NRA had remained silent until Wednesday, when it first announced its intention to offer "meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
St. Charles School District Superintent Jeff Marion said that the district funds one school resource officer at each high school and the St. Charles Police Department pays to have one DARE officer at Hardin Middle School and another who splits time between the other schools.
Adding a resource officer to each building would cost the district an additional $600,000 a year at a time when the district is trying to cut $1 million from its budget.
The city used to provide four DARE officers to the district. In 2009, then-Police Chief Dennis Corley told the school district it would stop providing two D.A.R.E. officers free of charge because those officers were needed as regular police officers.
Marion said he'd love to see an officer in every school and plans to speak with other local governments to see if that is a possibility.
Tim Fitch, chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, previously suggested that school officials arm themselves to protect students, an idea that was rejected by local school officials during a meeting of the Safe Schools Partnership Program on Thursday.
Marion said he understands the sentiment, but doesn't think it's fair to ask administrators and teachers to serve as armed protectors.
"I think for it to be effective you have to have someone who is trained to know when to use force and not to use force," he said. "I think there would be more opportunities for accidents if there are more guns in school."
The district is planning a number of security upgrades for buildings and may ask voters to approve a bond issue.
Following the shooting, President Barack Obama has pledged to make gun control a "central issue" in his second term, reports the New York Times. A proposal is expected within a few weeks.
The NRA's statement approaches the issue much differently. Instead of creating more stringent gun control laws, the NRA suggests that guns in schools would prevent future shootings.
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