The Washington Post fact checker gives the National Rifle Association four “Pinocchios” for a tough television ad accusing President Obama of “elitist” hypocrisy because his children are “protected by armed guards at their school.” The ad features an image of NBC newsman David Gregory, whose children also attend Sidwell Friends School. A longer version of the ad quotes a conservative Web site as saying: “Armed Guards — Good enough for the David Gregory's kids' school, not for the rest of us. …[The] school Obama's daughters attend has 11 armed guards.”
Sidwell Friends has two distinct campuses, and it appears that the 11 “armed guards” is really just one or two unarmed guards per school at a time. The National Center for Education Statistics says 27 percent of public schools have either police or security guards on campus, with virtually all of the larger schools (1,500 students or more) having such security. The NRA ad gives the impression that a phalanx of armed police are guarding students, such as the Obama and Gregory children, at Sidwell Friends. That is completely false. Far from being elitist, the relatively small force of unarmed security guards at Sidwell is not unusual for a school of its size. Moreover, the ad also suggests that Obama rejects out of hand boosting security at schools, when in fact his proposals include provisions that would provide funding for more school security. If the NRA is trying to count Secret Service protection for Obama's children as part of that force of armed guards, that's even more ridiculous. Such protection is mandated by federal law.