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Georgia Schools Chief Backs NRA Proposal on Armed Officers at Schools

A spokesperson for Barge likes the suggestion for schools. Walton and Gwinnett counties already have armed school resource officers in many schools.

The suggestion Friday (December 20) of having armed officers at schools as a deterrent to mass shootings found approval from Georgia School Superintendent John Barge.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Having a school resource officer would certainly be ideal,” Matt Cardoza, director of communications at the Georgia Department of Education, said Friday after a conversation with Barge. “It makes the school a safer place, but the state would have to pick up a significant part of that cost.

"Districts aren’t really in a position to pay for more than what they’re already struggling to pay for.”

Friday, a National Rifle Association executive called for Congress to foot the bill for armed guards at every school in the country.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

"We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents," LaPierre said. "Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, 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, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it."

According to the AJC, the cost for such security in Georgia would come to nearly $47 million per year, if the officers earned an average annual salary of $35,000. The state has 2,289 public schools in the 2011-2012 school year, according to a report from the Georgia Department of Education.

However, in Gwinnett, the school system already is struggling financially.

Teachers are not getting scheduled pay raises in the current budget, and they are having to endure furlough days. In Walton and Gwinnett counties, though, armed school resource officers are in many of the schools - especially at the middle and high school levels. 

So what is the answer? Can we afford to do this or is the question really can we afford not to? Would you like to see the armed school resource officer program extended to elementary schools in Walton County as well.

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