MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — A Minnesota congressman who’s a former teacher and gets straight A’s from the National Rifle Association says he’s “deeply disappointed” with the NRA’s proposal for posting armed police officers at every school.
Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat from southern Minnesota, tells reporters he rejects the “pessimistic world view” that NRA lobbyist Wayne Pierre expressed at a Washington news conference Friday, reacting to last week’s shootings at a Connecticut school that left 26 children and staff dead.
Walz taught geography and coached football at Mankato West High School before he was elected to Congress. He says he refuses to believe that schools need to become “armed encampments.”
Walz also noted that LaPierre took no questions at his news conference. He says that’s “a very odd way to start a national conversation.”
Here are other responses to LaPierre’s press conference from notable Minnesota politicians and organizations.
Rep. Betty McCollum
No legal organization in America is more responsible than the NRA for lobbying to ensure the proliferation of killer guns while denying law enforcement tools to stop killers. Wayne LaPierre’s call for guards and guns in every school building and playground is madness and a perverse vision for life in America.
In Congress, we need to move forward comprehensive legislation that bans assault weapons, closes the gun show loop hole, prohibits high capacity magazines, and gives law enforcement the tools to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. At the same time, Congress will protect the rights of responsible gun owners and hunters.
It is time for common sense Americans to come together to stop the NRA and make America’s neighborhoods and streets safer.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
On the day when we’re still burying children killed in Newtown, CT, the NRA has the audacity to say the answer is more guns and more violence that exposes our children to unprecedented dangers. As a mayor, as a father, and as a citizen, I’m appalled by this reckless disregard for the safety of our children. We must have a real conversation about how to protect our children and all members of our community that, among other items, includes:
- prohibiting the manufacture and sale of the military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips
- federal legislation that addresses the broken background check system
- a legislative package that makes gun trafficking a felony
- directing the Justice Department to crack down on rogue gun dealers
- outlawing cop-killer bullets and similar ammunition
None of these solutions were offered by the NRA today which means they’ve proven they have no interest in being part of this conversation that stops crimes like this from happening again.
Rep. Tony Cornish, (R) Vernon Center
The outgoing chairman of the House Public Safety Committee says studies show the best way to stop a threat is with immediate counter fire.
“Would you rather dial 911 and wait five or 10 minutes, like they did in the Connecticut shooting?” Cornish said. “Or would you rather wait 30 seconds, or a minute, for help to come from another classroom or another part of the school?”
Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota
The vicious attack at Newtown has prompted the NRA and other groups to suggest responses for that one-in-a-million day when a gunman walks on to the school grounds, but we’re not talking enough about identifying and treating the mental illness that turns kids into killers. We need to improve the mental health infrastructure for Minnesota students by reducing one of the worst counselor-to-student ratios in the United States, hiring more psychologists and social workers and improving access to community-based therapists.
Educators believe the solution to gun violence in schools cannot be to put more guns in schools. However, if we, as a nation, decide there is no other way, educators agree those weapons should be in the hands of trained police officers.
Armed guards, Dooher says, aren’t always effective.
The armed guard was the first one killed at Minnesota’s Red Lake High School rampage. And there was an armed guard at Columbine, too, who happened to be on a lunch break.
As to the cost of armed guards: The U.S. Department of Education says there are about 100,000 public and 33,000 private schools in the United States.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)