The Washington Post

Why Wayne LaPierre isn’t crazy

When National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre proposed late last year that the best way to keep schools safe was to put more "good guys with guns" in them, the reaction inside the Beltway was immediate -- and one-sided.


NRA head honcho Wayne LaPierre

LaPierre had hurt, not helped, his cause with the press conference, the thinking went, by proposing more guns rather than less guns in schools. His attitude was deeply out of step with the average person and was symbolic that the NRA's time had passed.

Or not.

In new polling conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, there appears to be far more support for arming people in schools than you might think.

Two questions make the point.

First, a majority (55 percent) of Americans in the poll support the idea of putting an armed guard in every school in the country, including 65 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats.

Second, when asked whether stricter gun laws or armed guards would do more to curb gun violence in schools, 43 percent chose tighter gun laws while 41 percent named armed guards -- a statistical dead heat. Not surprisingly, Democrats strongly favored stricter gun laws while Republicans preferred armed guards. Independents, living up to their name, split 42 percent for stricter laws and 41 percent for armed guards.

What those numbers suggest is that LaPierre's assertion about arming more people in schools is simply not viewed as all that far-fetched by a large plurality of the country. It also makes clear that the conversation about guns happening on the Acela Corridor (between Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.) is not the same conversation happening in other places in the country. To further make that point: People living in urban areas back stricter gun laws over armed guards as a way to curb violence in schools by 13 points in the WaPo-ABC survey; those living in rural areas favor the armed guard options by 22 points.

Put simply: Demonizing the NRA and its proposed solution to gun violence in schools may seem like a slam dunk political win but the numbers in the Post-ABC poll suggest it's more like a jump ball.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
Quoted
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.