The NRA proposed on Friday its National School Shield Program in response to the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The program will assist schools in implementing qualified armed security personnel at U.S. schools.
According to Gallup’s latest numbers, a majority of Americans believe that an increased police presence in schools is a better response to stop mass school shootings than more restrictive gun control laws.
Former Congressman and U.S. Attorney Asa Hutchison was tapped by the NRA to head up the program. Mr. Hutchison described the program this way:
First, it would be based on a model security plan... a comprehensive strategy for school security based on the latest, most up-to-date technical information from the foremost experts in their fields.
This model security plan will serve as a template... a set of best practices, principles and guidelines that every school in America can tweak, if needed, and tailor to their own set of circumstances.
Every school and community is different, but this model security plan will allow every school to choose among its various components to develop a school safety strategy that fits their own unique situation, whether it's a large urban school... a small rural school, or anything in-between.
Armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be one element of that plan, but by no means the only element.
If a school decides for whatever reason that it doesn't want or need armed security personnel, that of course is a decision to be made by parents at the local level.
The second point I want to make is that this will be a program that doesn't depend on massive funding from local authorities or the federal government. Instead, it'll make use of local volunteers serving in their own communities.
Hutchison explained to reporters that people within every community would be willing to participate in such a program saying, ”In my home state of Arkansas my son is a volunteer in a local group called Watchdog Dads, who volunteer their time in schools to patrol playgrounds and provide added security.”
Hutchison went on to explain:
President Clinton initiated a program called "Cops in School" but the federal response is not sufficient for today’s tasks. Whether they’re retired police, retired military, rescue personnel, I think they’re people in every community in this country who would be happy to serve if only someone would ask them and gave them the training certifications to do so.
Clinton established the “Cops in School” program in 1999 as a response to the Columbine School shooting in Colorado. The L.A. Times Reported:
Clinton announced $40 million in grants for 23 school districts that he said have found successful, comprehensive approaches to help troubled young people.
"These districts are bringing school nurses and counselors together to respond to warning signs like depression or bullying," Clinton said. "They are improving classroom security and expanding after-school and mentoring programs."
Clinton also unveiled the $60-million fifth round of funding for "COPS in School," a Justice Department program that helps pay the costs of placing police officers in schools to help make them safer for students and teachers. The money will be used to provide 452 officers in schools in more than 220 communities.
"Already, it has placed 2,200 officers in more than 1,000 communities across our nation, where they are heightening school safety as well as coaching sports and acting as mentors and mediators for kids in need," Clinton said.
The National Education Association and its allies are fighting the idea that “good guys” should have guns to stop the “bad guys.”
Responding to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R – TX), and radio host Bill Bennett earlier in the week, who all argued that teachers should be armed to prevent violence, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said:
Our duty to every child is to provide safe and secure public schools. That is the vow we take as educators. It is both astounding and disturbing that following this tragedy, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, Bill Bennett, and other politicians and pundits have taken to the airwaves to call for arming our teachers. As the rest of the country debates how to keep guns out of schools, some are actually proposing bringing more guns in, turning our educators into objects of fear and increasing the danger in our schools.
Guns have no place in our schools. Period. We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property.