A new NRA School Shield report recommends allowing teachers and other school personnel to carry weapons in the workplace.
The report, produced by an NRA-backed task force and released on Tuesday, avoids addressing Congress’ most-talked about gun control proposals.
Former Representative Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.), chair of the task force, told assembled journalists at the National Press Club in Washington:
“Teachers should teach. But if there is personnel who has good experience, who has interest in it and is willing to go through training […] then that is an appropriate resource that a school should be able to utilize.”
Hutchinson said that the group was proposing a “totally comprehensive” 40 to 60 hour gun safety program for any personnel that may be interested in carrying a weapon in schools.
Hutchinson argued that arming teachers would mean smaller school districts that can’t afford to hire school resource officers for every campus would be able to maintain an armed presence on school grounds.
He also said reducing “response time” for an armed defender was key to saving lives. He highlighted a 1997 shooting at Pearl High School in Mississippi as an example of how armed school staff could prevent shootings; on that occasion, an assistant principal pulled a gun from his car and forced the shooter to flee.
The NRA School Shield recommendations were met with criticism from teachers’ groups, who accused the NRA of attempting to overcome a problem caused by guns by adding more guns. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said:
“Today’s NRA proposal is a cruel hoax that will fail to keep our children and schools safe. It is simply designed to assist gun manufacturers flood the nation and our schools with more guns and large magazine clips, which will simply lead to more violence.”
“Schools must be safe, nurturing learning environments for our students, which is why we are opposed to proposals to arm educators or turn our schools into armed fortresses. Safety personnel and safety plans have their place in schools, but we must leave those decisions to the people who know our schools best – not to those acting as a proxy for gun manufacturers.”
Amongst other recommendations in the 225-page National School Shield plan are:
> The placement of at least one resource officer at every school
> The adoption of a model training program for school resources officers and armed school personnel
> Asking states to make safety and security plans mandatory for all schools
> The development of an online tool that will let schools evaluate their own safety programs
> Improved federal coordination and funding
> The creation of school-based threat assessment teams that work with mental health professionals
> NRA investment in the National School Shield as a permanent national organization that advocates for school safety
Notably missing from the report is a previous proposal, made by NRA executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre in December 2012, that armed volunteers should be allowed in school buildings to protect students.
Speaking about Congress’ reaction to the report, Hutchison said:
“I really hope that when they’re seeking common ground, this will be the common ground.”
In January, a Pew Research Center poll revealed 64 percent of Americans favored adding more armed guards and police in schools. However, only 40 percent agreed with arming teachers or other school personnel, and fifty-seven percent opposed arming teachers.
Where do you stand on the idea of arming teachers? Share your views in the comments below.
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