Posting an armed officer in every School District of University City 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."
University City Police Chief Charles Adams told Patch Friday that his department has three school resource officers in the school district, all of whom are in full uniform every day.
"You don't want to have a police officer that looks like an officer, but without the full compliment of tools," he said of his officers carrying guns. "But those officers have never had to use those weapons."
In the wake of the shooting, the University City School Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt sent a letter home to all parents in the district.
In the letter, Pruitt said the district was doing everything possible to protect its students.
While no amount of planning can guarantee that a tragedy like this will not occur, we are doing everything in our power to keep our students and staff safe. You should know that our high school is staffed with a full-time school resource officer, certified security officer, and facility assistants who are in place to patrol the halls and assist with safety and security measures as needed. A school resource officer is housed at the middle school on a daily basis along with facility assistants. We also have two additional certified security officers who are dispatched as needed along with an additional school resource officer who rotates at the elementary and secondary school levels. Currently, individuals must be “buzzed in” to enter the Julia Goldstein Early Childhood Center after a specific time when the doors lock. In the future, we will have a school resource officer circulate through the early childhood center as well. We are in the process of having locks installed on the classroom doors of the early childhood center.
Pruitt's complete letter to parents is posted on the district's website.
Adams complimented the district, saying U City has a good plan in place.
"I think they are reviewing it—as all districts are reviewing plans—but there is a good plan in place," he said. "It's responsive."
The role of a school resource officer is not only that of security and crime deterrent. In U City, SROs also act as mentors and teach D.A.R.E. and other programs.
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.
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.
On Tuesday, a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns sent President Obama a letter urging action on gun legislation. University City's Mayor Shelley Welsch is a member of the group. She joined St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and over 750 other mayors in signing the letter.
The NRA's statement approaches the issue much differently. Instead of creating more stringest gun control laws, the NRA suggests that guns in schools would prevent future shootings.
TELL US: Do you believe an armed officer in every school is the right approach? Or do you think tougher gun laws is necessary? Let us know in the comments below.