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NRA wayne lapierre ap photo
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre gestures during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington. The nation's largest gun-rights lobby is calling for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington PTA director rips NRA school gun proposal

The executive director of Washington State's Parent-Teacher Association says the NRA's proposal to put armed guards at every school is a bad idea.

After staying silent for a week to respect the families of the Newtown shooting victims, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre Jr. spoke at a press conference Friday in Washington, D.C. to address ways to prevent future school shootings.

Related: NRA proposes armed guards in all schools

"When it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family - our children - we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless," said LaPierre.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said LaPierre.

Washington State PTA executive director Bill Williams told Pat Cashman and Lisa Foster, filling in for Dori, that the NRA's strategy is the wrong way to go.

He said that a school using armed security could lead students to feel more fearful rather than feeling safer.

"For kids to be successful they have to feel safe. And if they're in an armed encampment I think they're far less likely to feel safe," said Williams.

The PTA's solution is to make sure people can't get guns.

"This is based on national PTA policy," said Williams. "We disagree very strongly. We don't want schools to become armed fortresses and we think the best way is to prevent access to firearms and make sure that only those who can appropriately handle them are, in fact, licensed to carry firearms."

Williams explained that even if they considered arming guards in schools there are problems finding well trained guards that would staff schools. Some opponents have said having armed guards would make schools more dangerous if they don't know what they're doing.

Even if schools hired armed private security guards or cities had more school resource police officers, children still might not be safe.

"I remember when banks used to have armed guards," said Williams, "and that didn't stop bank robbers so I don't know why anyone thinks that having armed guards at schools is going to be the solution to this problem."

Washington State legislators are also looking at a solution that targets access to firearms: trying to ban semi-automatic "assault-style" weapons.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart agreed with Williams, saying that pushing for armed guards too simplistic.

"I don't think you have to look farther than Lakewood. In Lakewood we had four armed police officers armed, trained that were shot and killed by one person," said the Sheriff.

But Sheriff Urquhart proposed a broader approach than just banning guns. He thinks that targeting violence as a whole in America and focusing on strengthening existing regulations will keep schools safer. For example, he says that lawmakers should look at making it harder for mentally ill people to get guns.

"Unfortunately there was this tragedy that occurred," said Urquhart, "but if anything good comes out of it, it'll be for once we'll have a good broad discussion and not try to focus in on broad gun control or putting officers in schools because neither one is the solution."

Jillian Raftery, KIRO Radio Editor
Jillian Raftery is an afternoon editor at KIRO Radio. She loves the neighborly vibe of the Pacific Northwest and spends as much time as possible outdoors.
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