Paul Babeu, Pinal County Sheriff, Snagging His Share of Air Time in the Wake of Elementary School Massacre
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is slowly creeping back into the national spotlight -- going from defending half-naked photos of himself in front of the mirror posing in gray granny-style undies to squawking about schools not being as safe as we think they are.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu
On Wednesday, he's on CBS 5 talking about principals and teachers carrying concealed weapons. On Thursday, he shows up on CNN, also saying more of the same.
"Let's deal in the reality," Babeu says during his CBS 5 interview. "Right now, our schools are not as safe as we believe that they are. And ... they are a magnet or an alluring target for these people who wanna kill others."
Haven't politicians been having these same conversations since even before the Columbine shooting spree?
The reality is that the world can be generally an unsafe place. And whenever a random act of senseless violence happens at a school, at a theater, a shopping mall or outside of a grocery store, you can guarantee that a politician -- especially one who needs to rehab his image -- will be eager to get on the airwaves for a little face time with the nation.
Consider that in 2009-2010, there were 138,925 educational institutions in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Since 1997 -- over a 16 year period -- ABC News tallies there have been nine mass shootings at schools across the country.
As my colleague Ray Stern pointed out, such "massacres are exceedingly rare."
Babeu, who was cleared of criminal wrongdoing after his Mexican ex-lover in February accused him of abuse of power and threatening to deport him, tells CNN's Outfront viewers on Thursday that he agrees with the NRA's call to arm school officials.
Babeu struggles to directly answer CNN's John Avlon questions.
Avlon points out to Babeu that there were two armed guards present at Columbine High School, and yet 13 people were killed during that shooting spree. He says there were 34 armed guards on duty at Virginia Tech, and 32 people lost their lives on that campus.
"So the evidence, Sheriff, suggests that armed guards on campus do not stop school massacres," Avlon says.
"Well, you see, a school that I grew up in, there was just one building. In some of these campuses are college campuses, as you point out, there's, there could be eight, there could be twenty-some-odd buildings. And, to my point, is training and arming designated school administrators or designated teachers -- not everyone. Some school districts may not wanna do this, but for those who do, law enforcement provides them that training, and they would be a, a critical, immediate response to an active shooter. Because these safe school zones, with the Gun-Free Safe School Act of 1990 and '95 created this thousand-foot perimeter around our schools, and it did some good, yet what it's done is create this sitting-duck zone. And, basically, the only people who are gonna follow, not only the 20,000-plus laws and regulations already restricting gun ownership and weapons, uh, are criminals and, and those who are mentally ill that, that see these as alluring targets and magnets to create these mass murders."
So, Avlon, tries again: "But, Sheriff, you know, the presence of two armed guards at Columbine and 34 at Virginia Tech, that didn't deter these crazed gunmen ... doesn't that precedent cause you to question the logic of your proposal?"
Babeu's says it doesn't. (Watch his full answers in the video posted below.)