- (Photo: REUTERS)
Sandy Hook Elementary students returned to another facility today under the protection of armed security guards which the National Rifle Association recommended after the Dec. 14 massacre that killed 26 people, including 20 children.
Although the children returned to classrooms with their old desks and furniture, they were relocated to an unused school facility nearby. But the most noticeable difference may be the presence of armed police officers.
Monroe, Conn., Police Lt. Keith White confirmed that officers would be in and around the school but that their presence would hopefully not be a distraction to students.
"We want this to be a normal school where they can go and enjoy themselves and learn throughout the day," White told reporters. "I think right now, we have to make this the safest school in America."
Within moments of the school shooting, gun control advocates including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and others began calling for a ban on assault weapons. The conversation grew intense in the days following with proponents of gun rights arguing that the debate should instead focus on mental health issues and how to identify those who have the ability and desire to commit such heinous crimes.
But a week and a day later, the NRA held a press conference that focused on the need to place more armed personnel – whether they are police officers or school officials with access to weapons – on school grounds.
"I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation, and to do it now," NRA's Wayne LaPierre said.
LaPierre's comments pointed to the fact that armed security are routinely seen at airports, banks and athletic events and that providing the same or similar protection for school children only makes sense.
"If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a properly trained – armed – good guy," commented LaPierre.
Former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (Tenn.) said he also felt that LaPierre's idea was valid and should be tried. "And I think the armed guards – I do think there's some merit to that," he said, recounting armed security officers in his Washington, D.C., high school when his father was in Congress.
Ford when on to say he was opposed to arming teachers.
Still, the issue of safety remains on the forefront of parents' minds.
Erin Milgram, parent of a first-grader and a fourth-grader, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that she planned to drive behind the school bus and stay with her 7-year-old daughter Lauren, whose teacher Kaitlin Roig had hidden her first-grade class in a closet during the attack.
"I haven't gotten to that part yet about not being with them; I just need to stay with them for a while," Milgram said, fighting back tears.
It is unclear how long the Monroe Police Department will be providing security and calls by The Christian Post inquiring were not returned prior to publication.