New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told Andrea Mitchell Thursday that putting armed teachers in schools is not the solution to the swell of gun violence across the country.
“I don’t think you’re going to be able to stop someone bent on suicide just by having an armed person there,” Kelly said. ’These people who have entered the schools and shot the students, they are on a suicide mission. They assume that they’re going to be killed and probably the first person that they would shoot, the first person they would kill–they’d seek out that armed individual. So this is by no means a panacea.”
Arming adults in schools has been at the forefront of the NRA’s reaction to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 students and 6 educators dead last month. In the organization’s first comprehensive remarks after the shooting, President Wayne LaPierre called on Congress “to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school.” The group released an ad on Tuesday pushing the issue and triggering an intense reaction from the public for targeting the president’s school-daughters. In the ad, a voice-over asks, “Are the president’s kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school?”
“It’s questionable as to why the president’s children were mentioned,” Kelly said on Andrea Mitchell Reports Thursday.
Kelly explained that New York City employs 5,500 “school safety agents” in certain schools and said that crime is down in New York City’s school system. “I don’t think it’s a universal need, by any means. Those police officers are addressing, for the most part, maintaining order in schools. We have 1.2 million students in our system. But I don’t believe we need it nationally.”
In 2012, New York City reported its lowest number of homicides in four decades. Just over half of the 414 homicides reported last year were murder victims from gunshot wounds.
Kelly said that at least two aspects of President Obama’s new 23-point gun control plan might stem the tide of gun violence in New York City: requiring universal background checks and tougher gun trafficking laws. He said that universal background checks could have some effect on the prevalence of concealed handguns, which he called “the biggest problem facing urban policing.”
Obama also proposed a federal gun trafficking measure Wednesday, which Kelly called “a move in the right direction,” saying that 90% of the guns confiscated by police in New York come from out of state. “We need a federal plan. Otherwise, we’re still going to be plagued with guns coming from all over. They come up what we call the iron pipeline, 95, Highway 95, coming up from the southern states. These are guns that are landing on our doorstep and they’re killing New Yorkers,” Kelly said.
Kelly commended Obama’s efforts to reform gun control. “I think the power of the office is tremendous and the fact that the president is now speaking about it, actually getting behind this legislation, will mean an awful lot. As he said yesterday, that we need the public support. We need the citizens to get behind this. To me, this is just common sense. These are not new proposals. Certainly, [New York City] Mayor Bloomberg has put these proposals forward for quite a while. But now that they’re sort of coalescing, getting behind it, and the president is leading the charge, I think this is very, very important and it could very well be a turning point.”