Parents, educators balk at NRA security push

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre delivers remarks during a news conference while a demonstrator from CodePink holds up a banner at the Willard Hotel in Washington. (Dec. 21, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Some Hudson Valley parents and officials rejected Sunday the National Rifle Association's call for placing armed guards at schools in reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's chief executive, answered questions about his organization's opposition to stiffer gun control measures and his call to place armed guards in the schools while making the rounds on the Sunday morning news programs.

The NRA is against any new gun control proposals, saying new regulations would not make children safer, but having guns and police officers in all the nation's schools would.

"It has increased the safety of the airlines, and it's not like it's an armed camp when you go on the airlines," he said on ABC's "This Week."

"Are our children less important to protect than our air transportation? I don't think so. So I think it's a very reasonable approach," LaPierre said.

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Some local parents disagreed, saying they don't want weapons in schools and that they support gun control laws.

On Dec. 14, gunman Adam Lanza killed 6 school staffers and 20 children in Newtown, Conn. Since, Hudson Valley school leaders and parents have held meetings to discuss improving school security.

Leaders of the Westchester East Putnam Region Parent Teacher Association oppose the NRA's proposal, Region director Kelly Chiarella said Sunday.

"We do not want our children walking into fortresses," Chiarella said. "We don't want the schools to become fortresses with metal detectors at the door."

The region's PTA leaders also discussed, and generally supported, new laws regarding gun control but haven't yet taken an official position, Chiarella said.

Gabriella Fernandez, a mother of two from Yonkers who was shopping at New Roc City Sunday, called the armed guard idea "terrible."

"We're trying to eliminate guns," Fernandez said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat who led the fight in the House for the 1994 assault weapons ban, said gun control must be part of the discussion.

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"Trying to prevent shootings in schools without talking about guns is like trying to prevent lung cancer without talking about cigarettes," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

But, Ori Pagovich, a father of three from Great Neck, said schools should do what it takes to keep children safe.

"We have armed guards in banks to keep our money safe and our kids are more important than our money," Pagovich said.

Bedford Central School District Superintendent Jere Hochman acknowledged that armed guards may sound like a good solution, but leaders must look at the issue through the eyes of an elementary schoolchild.

"It would completely changed the culture of an elementary school," Hochman said. "Do we want a seven year old to have that feeling that this is not a safe place?"

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Hochman also believes one armed security person would not have been able to stop recent school shootings.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe agreed.

"That's shortsighted to suggest that you just secure the school and that will discourage the shooter to go home," Zugibe said. "You'd have to have an armed guard on the school buses, and not let the kids go out on the playground anymore."

Rockland school and law enforcement leaders met last Wednesday and decided to take a three-pronged approach to enhancing school protection: supporting gun control, tightening school security and addressing mental health issues, Zugibe said there was no discussion of arming teachers or other school staff.

Zugibe said that schools need a multifaceted approach.

"There's no simple answer here . . . you have to look a at the whole picture," Zugibe said.

With The Associated Press and Caylena Cahill

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