NRA-funded proposal seeks armed personnel in schools

WASHINGTON Tue Apr 2, 2013 5:27pm EDT

1 of 4. Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), a consultant of the National Rifle Association, discusses the findings and recommendations of the National School Shield Program at the National Press Club in Washington April 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS EDUCATION)

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A study funded by the National Rifle Association released on Tuesday proposed that armed personnel be stationed in every school in response to December's school massacre in Connecticut.

The proposal by the National School Shield Task Force also includes security accords between schools and law enforcement, an online safety assessment tool for schools, state safety standards and improved federal coordination for school safety.

Asa Hutchinson, the panel's director, said having a trained and armed security officer or staff member in each school was a key element of the proposal.

"Obviously, we believe they will make a difference in the various layers that make up school safety," Hutchinson, a former congressman, told a news conference held under unusually heavy security.

"This is not talking about all teachers. Teachers should teach."

Security officers and staffers would need 40 to 60 hours of training that would cost $800 to $1,000 each.

While the NRA commissioned the 225-page, $1 million study, Hutchinson said his panel was fully independent. The 12-member task force included former Secret Service head Ralph Basham, police and security officers and five representatives from Phoenix RBT Solutions, a law enforcement training firm.

The NRA said it needed time to study the report and commended Hutchinson for his work. The NRA "is determined to continue to use every asset at its disposal to help make America's children safe at school," it said in a statement.

The report's recommendations said the NRA could develop and carry out armed personnel training. Given school funding shortfalls, the National School Shield program also could step in with NRA backing to support safety programs.

The panel also called for adoption of a model state law for armed school staffers and a program to assess threats and support the mental health of students.

SAFER KIDS

The gun lobby's proposal follows the December 14 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 students and six adults were killed.

Mark Mattioli, whose son was among the slain Newtown students, said he welcomed the recommendations and applauded the panel's work.

"This is recommendations for solutions, real solutions that will make our kids safer. And that's what we need," he told the news conference.

Hutchinson's proposal was similar to the post-Newtown call by NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre for armed guards in all U.S. schools. The suggestion drew strong criticism from gun control advocates and the biggest U.S. teachers' union.

In a statement, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the new proposal would fail to keep schools safe. She urged Congress to enact gun-control legislation.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the proposal could get the federal government in the business of supplying arms to teachers and heighten the risk that students could be funneled into the criminal justice system.

Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, an advocacy group, also condemned the proposal. So too did the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence which said the report "is not the conversation the American people want to have."

The Newtown massacre galvanized the U.S. debate over firearms. Gun ownership is protected by the U.S. Constitution and no major gun legislation has passed Congress since 1994.

Lawmakers are scaling back President Barack Obama's ambitions for sweeping gun control measures made after the Newtown killings.

Gun-control advocates say expanded background checks would be the most effective way to reduce gun violence. While such a measure could pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, it faces long odds in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold the majority.

On the state level, legislative leaders in Connecticut said late on Monday that they had agreed to some of the toughest gun regulations in the nation and expected to adopt them this week.

Asked about the Connecticut legislation, Hutchinson said it would be "totally inadequate" for school safety.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz, Eric Walsh, Alden Bentley, Jim Marshall and Andrew Hay)

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Comments (35)
The wealthy do not pay the equal proportionate tax amount of the middle class that send their kids to public schools, yet applaud more guns in public schools at the middle class tax payer without an appropriate welfare for the middle class tax break as would have occurred for the wealthy. Let the wealthy carry the burden of gun toting educators that will wait until the gun killing sounds have quieted down as the police do before responding to the sounds of violence, so they may return home at the end of day. Who will pay for the bullet-proof vests for these educators? Surely we are not sending the educators into a nightmare scenario ill-equipped than we would a well-trained police officer for the simple purposes of forwarding the media enhancement of the NRA and the Republican Party that send their kids to private schools, and forward the corproratism Ideals of the gun lobby?

Apr 02, 2013 1:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
React wrote:
Going to hire armed guards for schools,great idea, meanwhile more and more teachers get fired and classrooms get larger, filled with more kids practically sitting on top of one another. Sounds like fantastic plan. And please don’t fee me BS about the NRA or other interest groups fronting the money for this absurd operation.

Apr 02, 2013 2:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Concernedcitz wrote:
What will the NRA come up with next? Armed guards for all Theaters, for Malls, all strip malls, for all College campuses, for our churches and temples???? The insanity of the NRA is astounding. You can bet that every thug, porno king, drug dealer, sex slave trader, every pimp will be armed to the max because of the second AMendment while our police forces are not armed with assault weapons. Kind makes you wonder what side the NRA is really on!

Apr 02, 2013 2:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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