AFTER THE NEWTOWN, Conn., massacre, the National Rifle Association promised to “offer meaningful contributions to make sure this never happens again.” Friday, the gun owners and manufacturers lobby called for stationing an armed guard in every school in the country. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said the organization’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre. “Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away?”
This is not a fresh idea; the NRA responded to the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 with similar comments. It is not unreasonable where local schools feel they need armed guards. But the notion of thousands upon thousands of additional gun-carrying guards roaming school halls strikes us as impractical and unwelcome. Where would these new guards come from, would they really be trained and what additional margin of safety would be achieved? Do local police think this is a good idea? Mr. LaPierre’s simplistic slogan about stopping a bad guy with a gun ignores the reality that mass shootings are usually scenes of mayhem and crossfire, not a movie lot where a hero stops bad guys in their tracks. Would an armed guard have stopped Adam Lanza, or would the guard have been mowed down by Mr. Lanza’s semiautomatic rifle, as were the school principal and other courageous teachers and school officials?