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NRA wraps as debate over good guys with guns in schools resurfaces

Turnout was heavy for the NRA convention that wrapped up Sunday in Indianapolis.
Turnout was heavy for the NRA convention that wrapped up Sunday in Indianapolis.
Dave Workman

The National Rifle Association has capped another convention in a city that welcomed the organization with open arms, just as the debate over guns in schools has resurfaced, with a report from Purdue University that reinforces an idea the group pushed 16 months ago that ignited an anti-gun wave of ridicule and scorn.

According to WISH-TV, Eric Dietz, director of Purdue’s Homeland Security Institute reported about research that, “there are benefits to having guns in schools.” One week after the Sandy Hook tragedy, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre announced a new NRA effort to support school efforts to beef up security with armed officers. At the time, he commented, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Anti-gunners unleashed a torrent of criticism, sometimes in vile language. In Sunday’s Northwest Indiana Times, there was a story that noted continued hostility toward the idea of armed security that included a remark by J.T. Coopman, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Superintendents, that he was “appalled” to learn a couple of sponsors of legislation to allow guns on school grounds carried concealed handguns.

The Purdue report now suggests LaPierre was right and his critics were wrong. If he walks into Monday morning’s meeting of the NRA Board of Directors to chat about that, it would be an “I told you so” moment that might be well-deserved.

The Purdue research also reportedly revealed that “having a school resource officer improved response time by 80 percent, as opposed to just waiting for police. They also found that casualties would be cut by 2/3 if a school resource officer had a gun in school during an active shooter situation.”

This reinforces anecdotal information from around the country over the past year that increasing numbers of school districts had quietly okayed more security, and discussion about armed staff seemed to pop up frequently. Apparently, it is fine to talk about guns in schools to intervene or prevent school shootings, so long as it is not seen as the NRA’s idea.

As the lights dimmed in the Indianapolis Convention Center, the departing crowd was both satisfied and sad. They had seen the NRA in its glory and been a part of it, and there was a hint of sorrow that it was all over. No doubt many of those gun owners will travel to Nashville in mid-April 2015 for another go-round.

WISH quoted NRA spokesperson Catherine Mortensen, who noted, “I think if you were to ask our members, they would want to come back here for sure. Our board will be making that decision in the next few years but I can tell the members we’ve spoken to have been very pleased.”

Final crowd estimates may be revealed Monday during the board meeting. It may not have been a record attendance, but to vendors filling more than 600 booth spaces, it seemed to match the attendance at last year’s Houston convention.