D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said Wednesday that he was willing to consider placing armed guards in the District's schools, a proposal advanced in recent weeks by the National Rifle Association, but one that has drawn a frosty reception from gun control and education advocates.
"I think if it's a way of further protecting our students, I'm open for that discussion," Gray said, though he added that he had not studied the issue extensively.
The District already has school resource officers -- sworn police officers who are armed -- in dozens of its high schools and middle schools. But Gray indicated he might support a plan to install armed guards in all of the city's 125 public schools.
The Democratic mayor emphasized, however, that he would not endorse a plan to allow students or teachers to carry firearms on school property.
The NRA, which has aggressively campaigned to beef up school security in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson immediately signaled his misgivings about a move toward adding armed guards in a city that has some of the nation's most restrictive gun laws.
"The answer to Newtown is not to arm our schools," Mendelson said. "The response to gun violence is not more guns. We have to deal with more difficult issues: the prevalence of violence, the acceptance of violence in our society and the fact that there are people who should not have guns who do have guns."
And Victoria Sherk, whose daughter attends Hearst Elementary School in Northwest Washington, said the concept worried her.
"I think that's a pretty terrible idea," she said. "My biggest concern is that the gun would get into the wrong hands."
Aona Jefferson, who leads the union that represents school principals, said she would support adding more school resource officers to the District's campuses.
Like Gray, she stopped short of calling on the District to arm classroom teachers.
"I think that's going a bit far," Jefferson said. "I don't think teachers or principals should be responsible for having guns in the classroom ... You move around in the classroom too much."