December 23rd, 2012
09:26 AM ET
10 years ago

Armed guards like air marshals, claims NRA program chief

(CNN) – The man charged with developing the National Rifle Association's program to place armed guards in American schools defended the controversial plan Sunday against critics who claim it's a dangerous diversion from new gun restrictions.

Asa Hutchinson, a former U.S. congressman and Drug Enforcement Administration chief, said the NRA's system would help protect students against shooters like the one who killed 20 first-graders in Connecticut on December 14. Hutchinson said his "high-level panel of experts" would present educators with safety options, including detailed instructions on placing armed personnel in schools.

Hutchinson specified the NRA wasn't advocating teachers carry guns in school; rather, he suggested schools could follow the example of malls and movie theaters that employ retired or off-duty policemen.

And he pointed to the success of federal air marshals, the armed plainclothes law enforcement officers who ride on commercial flights to prevent criminal acts on planes. Both airplanes and schools are sensitive places where guns may seem out of place, Hutchinson said, but that hasn't prevented the air marshals from successfully preventing violence in the skies.

"What I wouldn't want would be someone carrying a terribly large weapon outside a school," he said. "For example, what's more sensitive than our airplanes? People resisted having weapons on airplanes, but I oversaw the federal air marshals. It's a deterrent. No one sees that weapon, but they are protected on that airplane, and it's a huge positive impact on safety."

Tighter gun control rules, which members of Congress have already pledged to introduce next year, are the wrong answer to a multifaceted problem, he claimed.

"My responsibility is school safety. I think that's where the debate should center," Hutchinson told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

"The debate should not be on new legislation," he continued, arguing laws to tighten restrictions on guns were not the solution.

"That's the wrong debate to have if you want to talk about protecting children," he said. "We have one-third of our schools now, of the 23,000 schools, that have armed guards. Should the other two-thirds have armed guards? I certainly think it's an option they should consider. It's not a novel approach, it's a safety approach."

The NRA first laid out its plan on Friday in Washington. The event – billed initially as a press conference, though the group didn't take questions from reporters – was criticized by leaders like incoming Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent.

Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate for more restrictive gun control rules, wrote that the NRA "offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe."

Hutchinson said Sunday the NRA's critics were fundamentally wrong in their push for new laws, which he said would do little to protect schools against people bent on committing acts of violence.

"Let's help these schools, and let's not have a false debate that won't increase safety in the long term for the most precious commodity in our society," he said.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: NRA • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. plain&simple

    NOT RESPONSIBLE or ACCOUNTABLE ....THE NRA!!! Let's be a third world country...How about our government buys It's MILITARY weapons from a manufacturer who doesn't sell that weapon to private parties? That's better than having armed guards at every street corner.

    December 23, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. ddblah

    The effect of air marshal is rather difficult to gauge, to say the least, because passengers are screened before they board. Therefore, there are no guns on plane to begin with. The expense is one reduced seat on each plane.
    There is no way to put screening in schools. Armed guards can indeed deter some criminals, but can not stop criminals with semi-automatic weapons. The expense is another concern which would be much higher than hiring a teacher.
    In addition to schools, what about hospitals, senior homes, day care centers? What about shopping centers, malls, movie theaters and other public places? Do we need to protect these places?

    December 23, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. Anonymous

    "My responsibility is school safety. I think that's where the debate should center," Hutchinson told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

    For those who don't see through Mr. Hutchinson ... he's promoting the gun industry through future gun sale profits. Of which he hopes to grease his own pockets big time. Via the federal government school protection program he wants initiated.

    The armed guard at the Holocaust Museum shooting was the first one killed. The two armed security guards at the Congressional building were the first ones killed. We should not be turning our children's schools into armed camps. It does not work. Just think how much worse it could have been for Ronald Reagan if Hinckley had had a bit more zing to that .22 of his.

    However. Should this piece of nonsense continue and actually become legislation, let the NRA fund the program. Training and all. Let them suffer the consequences when it goes wrong. The NRA is promoting a product that in their own words does not kill. Apparently there are enough fools in America to believe a gun doesn't kill. So, let the NRA (and it's gun manufacturing lobbyists) be held responsible for those people who DO kill (using those products the NRA promotes) TO kill ... accidentally or otherwise.

    December 23, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. Robfromdashwa

    The argument that armed civilians represent deterrence for mentally ill and suicidal mass murderers is as insane as the those who perpetrate these crimes. Armed civilians did not suppress murders in the Colorado movie theater or virtually any other mass murder scene. Within the next 2 years the number of guns in the hands of American civilians will exceed the number of men, women, and children and to what avail? Proliferation of guns in the hands of American citizens is as dumb as the cold war policy of Mutually Assured Destruction. NRA members and their purchased Republican congressmen are the puppets of the military-industrial complex that dominates American spending and politics and alienates the nation from the civilized world.

    December 23, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. John

    Scenario: Nutter with hidden assault rifle and hand guns, bent on killing walks into school, sees armed guard, has advantage of element of surprise, walks past armed guard, shoots armed guard from behind: back to square one!
    Only a donkey would think that an armed guard could stop an assault like those that have tragically happened. Then again we are dealing with the NRA so apologies to donkeys everywhere.

    December 23, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. ronvan

    REALITY & COMMON SENSE: New/old guns laws would help, but I seriously doubt the the NRA will allow them! They have politicans "bought & paid for" that support anything they ask! The vast majority of their members just blindly support them. It is bad enough that teachers, in todays society, are not only expected to teach our kids, but raise them, discipline them, etc., now we want to ARM them? And our kids are not stupid! How will they think and feel if they see "guards" moving around with weapons? And what kind of weapons? Revolver, semi auto pistol, or a rifle, semi auto, that is equal to the weapons used by these animals? The NRA says to arm every school in america. How about the NRA paying for security upgrades in every school in america? Doors, all of them, solid steel, with exterior exits only opened from the inside! Main entrance's that have bullet resistent glass and a double entry! Buzzed through the first doors, where they enter into a "secured" area, with a metal detector, and more bullet resistent glass! Then they are "greeted by school staff and an armed guard", cleared through the 2nd door and taken to an office where their kids will be brought to them! Other than a concealed hand gun the guard could have "more firepower" located out of sight of the kids! It is sad that we have to comment on this but it is the way we have become!

    December 23, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  7. Thomas

    Asa Hutchinson , a former U.S. congressman and Drug Enforcement Administration chief .

    Chief of the DEA ? That tells me his policy is another failed policy !

    Another left over right wing nut from the Reagan years.

    December 23, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    Last Friday we watched ridicules gun promotion press conference
    But I have hope, Previous Friday (12-14-2012) I seen tears in every TV reporters, President, elected official ……
    I wish media stay on this story till we find a solution

    December 23, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Just a thought

    Let's just cut to the chase.....These NRA types are driven by profits and not what saves lives. Its flooding the market with guns and then saying, we can shoot any deranged person that is seeking mass murder.....does anybody consider the collateral damage. Do we think every arm guard with an automatic weapon is going to hit the one perpetrator or is it possible some children may get hit.

    How stupid are you insecure woosies that feel you couldn't possibly survive with a gun as a "wet blankey"? Pathetic

    December 23, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. Don odell

    gun control would not have stopped what happened in newton . he stole the guns if not at home than somewhere else. but do something is better than doing nothing. the NRA is willing to help why not at least try it is better than doing nothing

    December 23, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Randy, San Francisco

    The Gun Industry is laughing all the way to the bank with all the publicity and fears over gun control laws. It is all about money. Gun control laws will be diluted and ineffective because our politiicans are fearful or in the pockets of the gun industry. Although they have the blood of innocent children on their hands, money is soothing their conscience.

    December 23, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. Crooked Bridge

    How is it that the "insane" would now have the ability to rationally consider a "deterrent" before taking action? How is it that the insane who are willing to shoot themselves, would now somehow fear being shot at by someone else? How is it that one "armed" guard could protect multiple access points at one time? How is it that the element of surprise that all of these killers have working in their advantage would somehow disappear? While the spirit of the idea is nice, the practicality of it is laughable. This is not the only, or best solution.

    December 23, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Cannoliamo

    I think the NRA is right. We should start by having an armed guard at every school and every kindergarten and day care center, eventually including all churches and strip malls and sporting eventsl (i.e. anywhere people gather). We should eventually develop swat teams for the schools and arm the crossing guards so that children won't be killed en route. We should also have armed guards at every location where children are waiting to catch a school bus as well as on every school bus. The NRA is definitely on the right track as are the paid representatives of all the other gun lobby groups.

    December 23, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |