Society

The NRA's National School Shield Program Introduced

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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The NRA-funded National School Shield Program was released today.

The 225-page document was introduced in Washington, D.C. by former congressman Asa Hutchinson (R-Arkansas). The report, assembled by a 12-person task force led by Hutchinson, calls for drastic changes to America’s school security protocols.

The report was promised in December by NRA director Wayne LaPierre, who said school security measures needed to change in order to prevent another shooting like the Newtown tragedy.

Many of the measures in the report align with LaPierre’s opinion that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

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The School Shield report consists of eight recommendations that the committee believes would strengthen school security nationwide.

Among the recommendations is a proposal for a Security Resources Officer at every public school in America.

"We looked at the technology of the schools, we looked at the interior and an exterior doors, access controls, architecture and design of the schools. And then we look at the armed officers whether it's an SRO, which is a school resource officer, to the staff that may be armed or considering being armed," Hutchinson said. "And obviously, we believe they make a difference in the various layers of security that add to school safety."

The report also calls for a 40-60 hour training program for any school security officers tasked with carrying a gun. The program would include up to 60 firearm safety training hours, an extensive background check, and a certificate for completing the program.

The report added that non-security staff such as teachers and administrators should be able to complete the training program and carry a gun on school grounds as well. Hutchinson spoke more on this controversial stance.

"Let me emphasize, this is not talking about all teachers," he said. "Teachers should teach. But if there is a personnel that has good experience and has an interest in it, and is willing to go through this training of, again, 40 to 60 hours that is totally comprehensive, then that is an appropriate resource that a school should be able to utilize."

The report did not make any recommendations for what types of firearms school officials should be able to carry. However, Hutchinson added that “Everything from a sidearm, to a shotgun, to an AR-15" would be acceptable.

Other recommendations in the report include creating school threat-assessment committees, increasing federal and state funding for school security programs, and creating an online-assessment that would alert staff of possible gaps in their school’s current security measures. The report also says the countries current “No Gun Zone” laws for school’s should be loosened.

Hutchinson added that the idea of armed volunteers at schools was scrapped after it met vehement opposition from school employees nationwide.

The report was met with heavy opposition from some, including the American Federation of Teachers. Union President Randi Weingarten called the School Shield report a “cruel hoax that will fail to keep our children and school’s safe.” Weingarten added that the recommendations of the report “are designed to assist gun manufacturers to flood the nation and our schools with more guns.” The Federation openly supports broader gun control measures, and opposes the idea of armed school teachers.

The NRA commended Hutchinson’s work on report, saying the measures “will go a long way to make America’s schools safer.” The association added that it needed “time to digest” everything in the report before commenting extensively on its findings.

The report’s release comes at a critical time during America’s ongoing gun-control debate. Within weeks, the Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would increase background check requirements and increase penalties for illegal gun trafficking. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said the legislation includes school security measures as well.

Hutchinson had no comment when asked about the upcoming Senate vote, saying he had “not dealt with the separate debate” because of his work with the School Shield report. 

(CBS News, CNN, Huffington Post)