Mayor Nutter’s reaction to the National Rifle Association’s suggestion that armed guards be placed in every American school?
“That message was an insult to the lives of those children,” the mayor said in an interview Friday, referencing the grade schoolers murdered a week ago in Newtown, Ct. “That we would face the prospects of shootouts in our schools, and utilize the precious and declining resources in public education to put armed personnel in every school is insane.”
Nutter dismissed the idea as coming from someone “who had clearly watched too many old Westerns” and said that NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre lost all credibility because he "didn't have the guts, didn't have the sensibility to at least acknowledge that there is a gun problem in the United States of America."
Nutter is the parent of a daughter who attends Philadelphia public schools.
Yes, some Philadelphia public schools have unacceptable levels of violence, but universal guns are not the answer, he said.
An unarmed police force monitors the Philadelphia School District, with officers permanently stationed inside many schools and others making do with roving patrols. Armed city police officers do work inside some of the city’s larger high schools.
Every Philadelphia public high school also has a metal detector or hand-held scanner.
The idea of arming officers in Philadelphia schools has surfaced in the past.
In 2004, then-schools chief Paul Vallas said he wanted to place armed officers in high schools, an idea that was staunchly opposed by Mayor John Street and others who believe that the move would create a police state inside schools, and inappropriately criminalize behavior that ought to be handled with discipline. More behavior supports and front-end intervention is the answer, not armed officers, they said.
Vallas’ suggestion came after a Strawberry Mansion student was gunned down near the school.
But the idea never really gained traction.
After "Assault on Learning," the Inquirer's investigative series on school violence, ran in 2011, an administration official said that both Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey believed putting city police inside some schools was one way to help curb violence.
A city police officer, Chief Inspector Cynthia Dorsey, is now head of the school district's safety force.