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Parents in red-leaning suburbs outside NYC green-lighting armed security at public schools

Nearly two dozen school districts in the red-leaning suburbs of New York City have approved armed guards to protect their children, preferring a show of force rather than further curtailing Second Amendment rights in the Empire State.

One such district is the Farmingdale School District in eastern Nassau County, which serves more than 5,100 students.

Although a coalition of parents, students and district employees pushed for the measure, which the board of education approved in February, many local residents told Fox News Digital they didn’t know about the move this week. However, many supported the idea.


The district’s plan, announced by superintendent Paul Defendini in a letter obtained by the local Patch, will place armed guards outside the schools. The guards would only have permission to enter a building in order to respond to an active shooter — otherwise, they would have to remain outside. Smithtown, another large district in neighboring Suffolk County, implemented similar measures in 2023.

About 17% of an estimated 420,000 students in the two counties are now protected by armed security, according to Newsday, at a cost of about $1 million per year per district. Other boards of education continue to weigh the idea.

WATCH: Residents of Farmingdale discuss their view on the school district hiring armed guards

“I have grandkids — I don’t want them hurt,” Deborah, an area woman, told Fox News Digital. “So, with violence the way it is now, a couple of dollars, it’s not gonna kill us. It’s going to save a life.”


Farmingdale residents inset over the sign outside Farmingdale High School in Farmingdale, New York.

Bob Clemente, another resident, said it was “about time.” 

“I do think it’s money well spent,” he said. “Especially when you have so many children dying.”

At a school board meeting ahead of the decision to hire guards, opponents argued that the district had not seen an active shooter incident and that armed security might be overkill. But just across the Long Island Sound, in Newtown, Connecticut, an active shooter killed 26 people in 2012, including 20 kids between six and seven years old.

State Police are on scene following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. An official with knowledge of Friday's shooting said 27 people were dead, including 18 children. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

“When you talk about your children’s life, if there’s a threat for violence in the school, then it’s worth every penny to pay to protect our kids,” Deborah added.

Experts say the best response to an active shooter is a forceful one. Police departments are trained to immediately engage an active threat. But proponents of armed guards say it’s even faster if someone is stationed on campus to confront an attacker.

“It is a sobering thought, but it is the reality for any parent who sends their child off to school,” said Nicole Parker, a former FBI agent who investigated the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. “If a shooter does make it onto a school campus, every second counts.”

Undefended schools are attractive targets for violent psychopaths who want to prey on defenseless children, Parker added.

Violent offenders prey on soft targets. School shootings are typically thoroughly planned out well in advance. Oftentimes, the shooter will scout out a location where they will face the least resistance and cause the most damage in executing their evil plan.

— Nicole Parker, former FBI agent


Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School School Resource Officer Scot Peterson

“Obviously, a school is one of the most vulnerable locations because you have large amounts of minors being overseen by a small number of administrators and teachers who typically have no way to defend themselves or their students from the adversary,” she told Fox News Digital. “Having an armed security guard or law enforcement officer at the entry point of the school is crucial in protecting the innocent.”

But the guard’s value is directly related to their training and willingness to act, she explained.

As far as how that affects the taxpayers, I believe that it’s something everyone should want: protecting our local kids in our schools.

— Caitlin, Farmingdale resident

“An armed guard or cop is useless if they are unwilling to do their job, as we have seen too often such as at Uvalde or Parkland,” she said.


Robb Elementary school surveillance video during deadly attack in Uvalde

In Parkland, an armed teen barged in and killed 17 people, 14 of them students, as the school’s then-resource officer, Scot Peterson, ducked for cover outside the building on Valentine’s Day in 2018. A jury found him not guilty of child neglect last year after prosecutors brought charges over his inability to stop the mass shooting.

And in Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, children locked in a classroom with the gunman called 911 multiple times begging for help.

Police stood in the hallway for 77 minutes before a U.S. Border Patrol tactical team breached the door and shot the gunman. By that time, the shooter had massacred 19 children and two adults.

“Many politicians use school shootings and mass shootings as an opportunity to hone in on gun control,” Parker said. “I believe in responsible legal gun ownership. I have yet to come across any violent shooter who had any regard for gun laws. Anyone willing to shoot and kill an innocent person has no respect for human life, let alone a gun law.”

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