A cop per school? Minn. Senate leader raises that idea

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, left, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt speak at a January 2017 Capitol news conference. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

The Minnesota Senate’s top Republican said Monday that the state should consider paying for a police presence in every public school.

Appearing on an MPR News show the day before the new legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said that enhanced school security should be part of the debate after last week’s mass shooting in Florida that left 17 dead. He raised the idea when asked whether Minnesota lawmakers would revisit bills to restrict firearms.

“I’d be open to funding for making sure every public school has a police officer present, depending on the size of the school maybe they need more — or at least at a minimum somebody would conceal carry, which mean you would have people available to stop something like that,” said Gazelka, R-Nisswa.

It would be a tall order. There are more than 2,400 school buildings across the state, many in small towns.

Gazelka said that he doesn’t believe banning certain weapons is the answer to dealing with gun violence in school buildings and other public settings.

Gun control groups want new restrictions on the sales of AR-15 rifles and similar guns that have been used in several high-profile shooting sprees in recent years.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said that’s unlikely to succeed.

“I know it feels good and feels easy to say we’re just going to ban these weapons,” Daudt said. “But the reality is there are so many weapons out there already. The AR-15 is certainly one that’s used commonly in these sorts of situations, but that’s just because it’s popular. It’s probably the most popular hunting gun as well. There are just so many of them sold.”

Reflecting on the Florida high school shooting, Daudt added, “I haven’t heard yet of a gun bill that we could pass that would have prevented this from happening.”

Protect Minnesota, which has worked to head off legislation that would expand gun rights, plans to rally Thursday at the Capitol “for sensible gun laws.”

  • Mary Sullivan Rueckert

    I heard this today. Are you kidding me!! In an era when school teachers are buying their own supplies and budgets are slashed the GOP is willing to cough up money for armed guards at every school?? How bout hiring teachers to teach!! Put that money to use for mental health, and then ban assault weapons here in Minnesota!!!

    • Fred

      I heard it as well. I don’t think Sen. Gazelka had fully thought it through when he suggested it.

  • K Ring

    This is exactly the kind of NRA scripted rhetoric that has gotten us to where we are today. If other countries around the world have been able to pass reasonable restrictions on weapons we should too. The gun violence in this country is out of control and it is time for our state representatives to come up with new ways of dealing with it instead of the same old script. It is old and tired and hasn’t helped.

  • fritzdahmus

    He said AR-15s are popular hunting guns?? I’m not sure that is correct.

    Having said that, if this happened at the Super Bowl a few weeks ago, next year’s security would be doubled at the Super Bowl next year [while the politicians talk about needed reasonable restrictions to gun ownership].

    That pairing of actions makes the most sense. I agree in principle with Gazelka, R-Nisswa. Everyone else protects themselves with guns, why not our kids? What’s next a truck bomb driven into a school? Schools have become popular targets. They need protection now. Meanwhile take action on gun restrictions, mental health issues, interventions, etc. But something drastic needs to happen NOW!

    Apparently the school in Florida had one armed security guard for that campus of 3200 kids. So they agreed with Gazelka (if they knew who he was), they just didn’t have enough security. Reports say the security guard didn’t even see the shooter…..ever. I’ll bet they have more now…when they open back up.