(CNN) — Nine months after the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy, President Barack Obama is putting millions of dollars into funding armed police officers in schools across the country, an idea not too far removed from an National Rifle Association proposal to make sure schools are protected by “good guys with guns.”
Friday afternoon the Justice Department announced about $45 million in funding intended to create 356 new school resource officer positions under the federal COPS grants.
“In the wake of past tragedies, it’s clear that we need to be willing to take all possible steps to ensure that our kids are safe when they go to school,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in the statement.
“Especially in a time of increased challenges and limited budgets, our top priority must always be the safety and well-being of our children.”
Newtown Connecticut, the site of the Sandy Hook tragedy, will be given money to create two new police officers in local schools.
The COPS grants, which stand for Community Oriented Policing Services, are announced annually by the Justice Department. This year the priority is being given to grants for putting armed police officers in schools. About $125 million in total grants were announced to fully fund the hiring of new community policing officers by local law enforcement agencies for three years.
In the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre proposed that armed guards, not necessarily police officers, be put immediately into every public school in America.
More guns, in schools and among the general population, have been the single most prominent solution offered by the NRA and other pro-gun voices in response to shootings at Sandy Hook and elsewhere, including the murder of 12 people earlier this month at the Washington Navy Yard.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said last year in announcing an NRA program that would help facilitate and train such armed guards.
That idea, of more “good guys with guns,” has been repeated frequently since then. Gun rights advocates argue that mass shootings happen primarily in what they call “gun free zones” where firearms are banned. They argue that such shootings do not happen in areas where guns are common and that people need to be able to defend themselves.
For the most part, the Obama administration and the NRA have been at odds over solutions to preventing shooting violence.
Efforts to introduce universal background checks and other measures to prevent gun violence spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden have failed to earn a 60-vote supermajority in Congress. They are opposed by gun rights groups and NRA-backed legislators who among other things fear a federal firearms registry that would one day lead to gun confiscation.
Even now, the Obama administration has not perfectly duplicated the NRA plan. Whereas the NRA called for armed guards and did not specify police officers, the COPS grants will go explicitly to trained law enforcement.