A task force associated with and funded by the National Rifle Association on Tuesday unveiled a 225-page plan to increase school safety that prescribes stationing an armed police officer at every school in America, as well as providing a training program for volunteer staff members to allow them to carry a firearm and better respond to crisis situations.
Former Arkansas Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson presented the “NRA National School Shield Initiative” and outlined its eight recommendations for ensuring school security across America. Hutchinson emphasized that the “Shield Initiative,” while sponsored by the NRA, remains autonomous, meaning that the NRA is not obligated to promote the group’s recommendations.
According to the recommendations set forth in the plan, teachers who volunteer would be required to take 40-60 hours of comprehensive training in order to have access to firearms on school grounds. The teachers would also have to undergo background checks.
“This is not talking about all teachers. Teachers should teach, but if there is personnel who has good experience, has interest in it, and is willing to go through this training, … then that is an appropriate resource a school should be able to utilize.”
“Obviously we believe that they make a difference in the various layers of security that add to school safety.”
“We also have prepared for the first time that I’m aware of, a model training program for selected and designated armed school personnel. … Schools are undergoing that process all across America right now without adequate direction on what is a good training program, a model training program, for armed school personnel.”
Hutchinson pointed to the Pearl High School shooting to highlight the potential effectiveness of armed faculty members in neutralizing threats.
“First of all, there is the incident in Pearl High School in 1997, where an active shooter went into the school and killed two students and wounded others. There was no School Resource Officer (SRO). The Assistant Principal, Joel Myrick, left the school, went out to his truck, and retrieved his 45 cal. semi-automatic firearm, returned to the school and disarmed the assailant. …That is what disarmed the assailant and saved lives. And the key is reducing that response time. If Joel Myrick had been trained, if he had had access [to a gun] on his person, he might have saved more lives, even in that instance.”
The group also recommended a free “online self-assessment” tool for schools — courtesy of its website — that would lay out best practices for school safety and allow school administrators to assess any “gaps in their own security,” as well as possible solutions.
“Right now schools either have to go out and hire an expert or they struggle around with local law enforcement to develop their security policies,” Hutchinson said. “This online assessment tool is available for any school — parochial, private or a public school — free of charge on the website.”