Is the NRA push for guns in schools crazy? It depends on where you live.
Reaction to the NRA’s controversial proposal to have armed guards in all schools illustrates the regional divide over guns – how and even whether to control the nation’s private arsenal.
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Mayor Michael Nutter in Philadelphia said the NRA's message is "an insult to the lives of those children" killed in Newtown. "That we would face the prospects of shoot-outs in our schools, and utilize the precious and declining resources in public education to put armed personnel in every school is insane."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday that outright gun confiscation could be part of a legislative effort in New York, already one of the most tightly controlled states. "Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option – keep your gun but permit it," the governor said.
Some Republican governors distanced themselves from the NRA as well. Rick Snyder of Michigan this week vetoed a law that would have legalized gun-carry in schools. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he doesn’t like the idea of schools becoming “armed camps.”
In contrast, a Georgia lawmaker this week introduced several bills aimed at scuttling gun restrictions in the Peach State, with a warning that "evil resides in the heart of the individual, not in material objects."
In other red and purple states like Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Pennsylvania, and even largely liberal Minnesota, lawmakers have begun mulling proposals involving teachers at least being able to store guns in their cars at work. A Virginia lawmaker has proposed a law mandating that at least some teachers in every school are armed.
But even as LaPierre's speech seemed to signal possible retrenchment, the antagonistic and divergent political debate could also be seen as productive, even healthy, says Second Amendment scholar David Angeli, an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore.
"The fact that there are two separate tracks [in reaction to the shootings] could be a healthy thing," says Mr. Angeli. "I'm hopeful that we'll take the best ideas from both of those groups since it seems like reasonable-minded people could come together on some of these issues."
To many American parents, the divide over how to proceed may have regional and demographic implications, but there's also a distinct class divide that's emerged in the debate.
Pro-gun advocates, including the NRA’s LaPierre, have pointed out that many of the same powerful and wealthy leaders calling for stricter gun restrictions themselves are under armed guard, including members of Congress protected in their hallways by the Capitol Police.