NRA School Shield Suggests Schools Arm More People

NRA makes safety recommendations as Senate weighs its own school safety bills.

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The National Rifle Association and CEO Wayne LaPierre are pushing for more armed security in schools.

By SHARE

When it comes to deterring madmen from storming school grounds, former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., tried to make the case Tuesday the little things matter a lot.

Whether it is securing windows around interior classroom doors, hiring more school resource officers or hounding teachers to remember to wear their name badges, there are a wide range of things officials can do to ensure their schools are more secure.

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The National Rifle Association tasked Hutchinson, the former head of the Drug Enforcement Agency who is also running for governor in Arkansas, with building its National School Shield program, the NRA's attempt to prevent future tragedies like the one that occurred in Newtown, Conn., in December.

While the NRA says that it has yet to endorse the eight measures Hutchinson suggested Tuesday, the announced safety framework closely follows the NRA's preliminary proposal to hire more police officers and arm more individuals on school grounds.

"We need time to digest the full report. We commend Asa Hutchinson for his rapid response in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, and we are certain the contributions he and his team have made will go a long way to making America's schools safer," the NRA said in a statement.

The National School Shield program would give schools the opportunity to designate certain personnel as licensed and trained firearm carriers. While many schools are deemed gun-free zones, Hutchinson made the case that arming school officials is one of the only ways to make sure teachers can protect their students in time.

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"The response time is critical. If you can reduce that response time. If you have that firearm in the presence of someone in the school that can reduce that response time. That is the goal," Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson also outlined other ideas to aimed at curbing violence in schools like an online workbook that would help guide school superintendents to implement procedures on their campuses. He also suggested that federal, state and local governments work more closely to streamline safety programs and avoid duplications.

Mark Mattioli whose son James was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December endorsed the recommendations.

"I want to say politics needs to be set aside here," Mattioli said. "These are recommendations for solutions. Real solutions that will make our kids safer."

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But Kenneth Trump, a national consultant on school safety, argues that the NRA and gun-control groups are letting politics get in the way of the best practices.

"The school safety has been politically hijacked on both sides of the issue," Trump says.

In his experience, Trump, who supports the second amendment, says that school resource officers are effective at stopping crime, but other employees, no matter how much training they have with a firearm, are not suitable for that role.

"You don't arm teachers and custodians," Trump says.

Hutchinson unveiled the 225-page report at that National Press Club as senators on Capitol Hill are debating last-minute tweaks to their own gun-control legislation that includes a school safety measure.

However, while a proposal for "universal" background checks has the most hurdles to overcome, the Senate's school safety provisions are not overwhelmingly popular among Republicans. In committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was the only GOP lawmaker to vote 'yes' to allocate more federal grant money to the Secure Our Schools program, a 50/50 match grant program that helps pay for safety enhancements on campus like new locks and reinforced doors in elementary, middle and high schools across the country.

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Since 2002 when the program first began, more than 5,000 schools have received the money, more than 50 percent of the schools who have applied were turned away and no grants were distributed in fiscal year 2012 because there was no more money to give.