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December 21, 2021

The cost of placing an armed cop in every school

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is back in a winless position right now, holding once again the villainous role it seems oblivious to in the wake of any American mass shooting.

But there was Wayne LaPierre today, holding a press conference in Washington to break the NRA’s silence after last week’s Sandy Hook massacre.

Said the group’s executive vice-president: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

It was the line everyone imagined he'd say, but perhaps came alongside a proposal some had not. Earlier today, LaPierre called on Congress to place an armed police officer in every school in America.

We’ll leave it to the comments to address whether armed cops in schools would prevent or encourage violence, but what we can do here is break down the costs a bit to see how pragmatic it is.

*Bing: What is the deadliest school shooting in history?

In the U.S., where nationwide debt is still such an issue the term “fiscal cliff” was batted around just as often over the past week as talk of the 27 murdered in Connecticut, there are 98,817 public schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

And in the U.S., the median annual pay for a police officer was $55,010 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Business Insider’s Walter Hickey breaks down the math on this, noting for each armed cop placed in an American school, it would cost taxpayers about $5.4 billion every year. (So, $5.4 billion for one in each school, and an additional $5.4 billion for every additional officer placed in schools across the nation.)

That’s a heck of a lot, and we can’t speculate how that sum would stack up against the sweeping reform of mental healthcare in America many are calling for.

But what about Canada? We’re a nation that, in spite of our global rep, is prone to acts of unspeakable violence, like the alleged Luka Magnotta murder and dismemberment last year. More relevant here: the shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique school that left 15 dead in 1989.

In Canada, there are about 16,000 public (ie. non-private) schools, according to a national breakdown.

And in Canada, cops are well paid, even more so than their colleagues in the U.S. While in some districts the starting police salary can be as high as $87,880, the median police pay for a first class constable in Canada is $83,483, according to an RCMP report.  

So to place an armed officer in every public school across the country? We’d be talking about $1.3 billion each year, per cop, from Canadian taxpayers.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...