WASHINGTON Dec 21 In 2006, a political ad swept
through the state of Arkansas, touting Asa Hutchinson's values
as "shaped in rural Arkansas, a half-mile down a dirt road."
In his unsuccessful bid for governor, the former federal
prosecutor and U.S. congressman touted his conservative
political views and garnered a strong endorsement from the
National Rifle Association, a powerful U.S. gun lobby.
On Friday, the NRA announced that Hutchinson - also a former
Homeland Security official and now a lawyer predominantly
focused on white-collar crime - will spearhead an effort to put
armed guards at schools in hopes of preventing mass shootings
like the one on Dec. 14 in Connecticut that killed 20 young
children and 6 adults.
"School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single
solution," Hutchinson said at Friday's news conference. "But I
believe trained, qualified, armed security is one key component
among many that can provide the first line of deterrence as well
as the last line of defense."
His effort, dubbed the National School Shield Program, would
have a "budget provided by the NRA of whatever scope the task
requires." It will focus on producing a security model, which
may rely on local volunteers as armed security guards and would
be offered for adoption at every school in America free of
charge, NRA officials said.
Opponents of the plan say the United States needs to tighten
gun controls rather than introduce more guns into school
NRA has contributed more than $30,000 to Hutchinson's
various political campaigns for state and federal offices over
more than a decade, becoming one of his top backers, according
to the Sunlight Foundation that tracks money in politics.
In a brief stint as a registered lobbyist at Washington law
firm Venable LLP Hutchinson in 2007 represented Point Blank Body
Armor, a maker of body armor for the U.S. Army, according to
another money-tracking group Center for Responsive Politics,.
Hutchinson, now 62, was the youngest U.S. Attorney in the
country, when Republican President Ronald Reagan appointed the
then-31-year-old to the post in 1982.
In what his political ads later touted as a
character-forming experience, Hutchinson at the time put on a
flak jacket to negotiate a stand-off between local, state and
federal law enforcement and a white supremacist group known as
The Covenant, The Sword and The Arm of the Lord.
After unsuccessful bids for Senate and Arkansas state
attorney general, Hutchinson became a congressman in 1996,
replacing his brother Tim Hutchinson in the U.S. House of
Representatives. He later serving as one of the managers during
the impeachment of Democratic President Bill Clinton.
At the time, he voted for a bill that would have shortened
the waiting time for gun buyers for any necessary background
checks to 24 hours.
Hutchinson later went on to become the administrator at the
Drug Enforcement Administration and the first under-secretary of
the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security under
Republican President George W. Bush.
In 2006, he returned to Arkansas for his unsuccessful run
for governor, during which he briefly came under fire from his
Democratic opponent Mike Beebe for airing an attack ad that
featured children delivering the anti-Beebe message, according
to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette at the time.
In an interview with the newspaper in October 2006,
Hutchinson also shared his enthusiasm for hunting deer and other
game and said his favorite hunting firearms were "a Remington
12-gauge shotgun and a Remington bolt-action .308 deer rifle."
"I think promoting hunting and shooting sports in general is
a strong tradition in Arkansas, and it's a tradition that dies
out if it is not passed on to the next generation," he told the
When asked about the connection between hunting weapons and
the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which gives
Americans the right to bear arms, he said: "To me, it's a matter
of freedom, it's a matter of history and tradition, and it's a
matter of self-protection."