One of Illinois' most outspoken gun ownership advocates on Monday said he hoped that, in response to the Newtown grade school massacre, state legislature would make it legal for teachers, principals and school custodial staff to be armed with concealed weapons inside schools statewide.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said that, at minimum, each school statewide, should have an armed security guard on its premises. As other gun advocates are arguing elsewhere, Pearson said that had the Sandy Hook Elementary School staff been armed, the tragedy that claimed the lives of 26 could have been averted.
"The problem we have is a gun-free zone. We have a gun-free zone around a school. Every crazy person knows that," Pearson told the paper. "And so, the gun-free zone is like a magnet for the lunatics. He or she knows there won’t be any resistance there."
Pearson's suggestion follows former Education Secretary Bill Bennett's suggestion on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that certain school employees should be armed, a suggestion Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, advised against.
"Schools have to be safe sanctuaries," Weingarten said. "We need to actually stop this routine view that just having more guns will actually make people safer. We are opposed to having someone who has access to guns."
In light of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the superintendent of a small-town Texas school district that already allows its teachers and staff to carry guns in schools this week defended his controversial policy.
Gun control has been a hot topic nationally since the Connecticut shooting and the issue is particularly timely in Illinois following a federal appeals court tossing the state's concealed carry ban last week. On Monday, both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn announced their support for assault weapons bans. The state legislature overwhelmingly rejected Quinn's proposed statewide assault ban in Illinois earlier this year.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday also voiced his support for stricter gun control legislation.
"These military style weapons can bring down airplanes, they can bring down buildings, they can shoot people in mass with the pull of a trigger," Jackson told WGN. “We must get these weapons off the street and out of our houses.”