Reaction in Missoula was mixed to the National Rifle Association’s call to place armed officers at every school in America.
NRA chief Wayne Lapierre made the announcement one week after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He blamed the shooting on violence in movies, video games and music videos, saying they've exposed children to a “culture of violence.”
"At least one (officer) on every floor, at best,” said one Hellgate High School student, approving of the NRA’s announcement. “Something's bound to happen eventually."
"I don't think that's a good idea,” said another student, a senior at Hellgate. “I don't think just because of one incident they should arm all schools."
Western Montana schools have suffered rumors and gun threats following the shooting in Connecticut. At Hellgate High School, Missoula police officers say they identified the student responsible for making threats, and were monitoring the situation.
School administrators said attendance was down 20% at Missoula high school, 15% at junior highs, and 2%, at area elementary schools compared to what it was on the day before holiday break last year, with the exception of Lolo Elementary, where attendance was up over last year.
Hellgate student Emily Dodd said most of her classes were half empty.
"Some of the teachers were talking about the Connecticut shooting and just saying how we're safe here and we had an assembly and there a lot of officers in the building," said Dodd.