A potential proposition to station armed guards at Texas State and other campuses across the nation would be an extreme measure that could have negative effects on students and financial budgets.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, discussed stationing officers during a Dec. 21, 2012 press conference in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. He said, “I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school—and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.”
In America, there are more than 100,000 public schools and universities, according to 2008-2009 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. Close to one-fourth of the nation’s population—77 million out of 305 million people—attend some form of school, according to 2009 statistics from the same source. It would be a tall task to station multiple guards at every school in order to protect such a large amount of people. In his Dec. 21 press conference, even LaPierre acknowledged he was previously called “crazy” by the media for proposing the idea of armed guards in schools five years ago.
But let us imagine Congress does end up passing a law stating every school across the nation must have armed guards. What would this model look like in actuality?
A Dec. 21, 2012 USA Today article reported nearly 70 percent of public schools had no police officer present on campus each week in 2009-2010. A possible law mandating schools implement armed guards could end up creating at least 500,000 jobs through the addition of two to 10 new security positions per school. These estimations are based on the numbers of public schools and universities in the nation.
A May 31, 2011 estimate by the U.S. Department of Defense indicated there are 1,431,403 people serving in the U.S. armed forces. The government would have to basically create an army solely to protect students. Officials would potentially have to appropriate close to $8 billion annually for training and equipment, according to a Dec. 21 article by Marketplace, a public radio program.
The alternative to a government-run agency to protect students is the development of a large private sector, but this does not seem plausible. In the same USA Today article, it was estimated by the head of the National Association of School Resource Officers an armed guard could cost $80,000 a year. And the NRA intends to place multiple guards per school. Schools are already struggling to pay teachers and supply resources for learning. Placing the burden on individual schools or districts to get armed guards may create more problems than it solves, even if the entities are appropriated money for hiring.
Students might see recruitment fliers across campus if the federal or state government assumed responsibility for appointing guards. Sure, service veterans or trained personnel would be offered to protect schools. However, it is doubtful there are more than 500,000 willing people of that stature readily available. Recruitment efforts would be of the same nature as any other for the armed forces, which means they would mainly target young adults.
An extreme solution to fill the void could be compulsory enrollment in the armed services. Some efficient solutions to this problem are drafting a select amount of reserves, placing them in a short-term stint at a school and utilizing a revolving set of guards. Think of it as jury duty—except a person wields a gun and it lasts for a few months. This kind of solution could deeply impact many students negatively in both mental and psychological ways.
A number of school shootings have happened in the last year in Newtown, Lone Star College outside of Houston, Oikos University in Oakland, Calif., and Chardon High School in Ohio. Unfortunately, it would not be surprising if a negative, extreme law mandating armed guards at schools nationwide became a reality.
-Ravi Venkataraman is a creative writing master’s student.